February 21, 2019
On the Move
A year and a half into owning a Playstation VR I bought a pair of Move controllers almost as suddenly as I bought the device itself. I have never felt very excited about movement-tracking controllers in general. With the main exception of the Wii - which tended to do meaningful stuff - I prefer my controls exact and, more importantly, without placement or space requirements. I found playing Moss slightly annoying at many points because I always needed to be sure the camera could properly track my controller, and although Astro bot does great and I had learned more about camera and personal placement by the time I started playing it, it remained a slight source of friction. Just the little bit of extra work.
Work and play
Well, playing comfortably with Move controllers is a whole extra level of work. I am somewhat in love with Beat saber, but to play even decently I need to create more room by sticking the camera about as far away and off to the side as its cable will let it, and even then the space is not perfect. Having a big empty cube as my entertainment room would be beneficial.
So I have great fun when I play, but it is enough extra work to get into a good gaming position that I think actively about it before I start a Move-based game.
Because of this, I also have not tried that many games. I have yet to try Doom for example, but I have a hard time imagining that I will prefer Move to the visceral fun of controller-based gunning.
Oh, I need to get Superhot VR as well. Thanks for reminding me.
Tethered was great fun to try using Moves. With a Dual shock controller, the game is played with you looking down at the wonderful world from fixed clouds. With Move controllers, you have two hands and can move your viewpoint freely. If it felt like looking at a moving model railway landscape before, the feeling just exploded when I was able to look as close as I wanted from any angle I wanted.
So that was cool. But I am not sure Tethered actually played any better. Perhaps I had not got the setup quite right, because it feels like an RTS with two independent controllers could be perfect. But with the brief time I put in, it felt fun but imprecise.
Beat saber rocks
Beat saber actually has moments of imprecision as well, times when I have to move to avoid obstacles or make wide swipes and notice tracking is lost momentarily. But when the setup is right, the game plays and feels so good it easily gets into "well, I never want to play this in any other way"-territory. It would be such a lesser experience with different controllers, or outside of VR for that matter. (This is even before considering the fact that the controllers appear as light sabers, and how they buzz and vibrate if you cross them.) It is cool to play, and when I find the space too small I wish to find a better space rather than stop and play something else.
Drift and improvements
Drifting in general feels like more of a thing than for the VR headset itself. There is also the extra setup of activating and grabbing the controllers to play. For some reason, the Playstation UI will not let me move between things using the Moves, so I always have a few moments where I need to juggle three controllers, and find some decent place to put down the Dual shock afterward.
On one hand, it bothers me to have games which place so much of a demand on the room in which it is played, especially when the great thing with VR is removing the room and creating another world in its place. On the other, I look forward to figuring out the best setup given my physical spaces and then seeing how good of an experience I can get.
Beat saber has already made it worth the investment as far as I am concerned. But if VR gaming has some number of steps to go before mainstream ease of use, I feel like VR gaming with Move-type controllers has at least two more.
February 10, 2019
I often start thinking about the terminal stations of public transportation. I start somewhere in the middle of the map, the twisted ball of colored lines which I may have come to know for a couple of days or years. Familiar names which evoke locations, activities, and, usually, lots of people.
But then the eyes inevitably start following some line, moving outward, eventually passing through zones and settling on the end of the line. What does it feel like to reach the outmost station of the London underground? What would my mindset be if I left Manhattan from Fulton street and emerged into daylight again at Far Rockaway? What is life like in Shenfield? Uxbridge?
(And where to the British find all their exotic place names?)
Turns out, the transportation does not even have to be real to get my mind going. I have been playing Mini metro for a few short sessions, and I can find myself thinking the exact same way when a new outlier station pops up on the map and I connect it to my little network. What is it like there? Is it a desolate overground station? A couple of well-worn platforms served by creaking escalators and a couple of tight-wound staircases? Are there fun coffee places and busy little shops, or are people surprised to find the lone vending machine actually vending?
Then, the next Monday of game time rolls around, and my mind is pulled back to the exciting decisions of how to spend the new allotment of trains, cars, tunnels or lines. Mini metro is a wonderful little puzzler. I look forward to letting my mind wander and wonder a lot more as I unlock all the cities.
January 23, 2019
Books I have read
Books and other literature I have read, in, somewhat uncertain, reverse chronological order. The list starts from the summer of 2008, and my main purpose with it is to be able to see what I have actually been reading. I do feel that I read many quite good books, but I never seem to be able to recall what I have recently read when asked for recommendations.
- Game engine black book: Doom
- How to make sense of any mess, by Abby Covert
- Creative selection, by Ken Kocienda
- The leprechauns of software engineering, by Laurent Bossavit
- Algorithms to live by, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
- Afrikanen, by J.M.G Le Clézio
- Mooncop, by Tom Gauld
- The levers of power, by Jason Fry
- A new dawn, by John Jackson Miller
- Bottleneck, by John Jackson Miller
- Mercy mission, by Melissa Scott
- Natural born heroes, by Christopher McDougall
- Making sense of color management, by Craig Hockenberry
- Tarkin, by James Luceno
- The year without pants, by Scott Berkun
- Batman - the killing joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bollard
- What if? by Randall Munroe
- Käre ledare - min flykt från Nordkorea, by Jang Jin-Sung
- Äventyrsspel - bland mutanter, drakar och demoner, by Orvar Säfström and Jimmy Wilhelmsson
- Take control of Audio hijack, by Kirk McElhearn
- Pro HTML5 games, by Aditya Ravi Shankar
- So, anyway …, by John Cleese
- The Martian, by Andy Weir
- Extremely loud & incredibly close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
- Svärdet och spiran, by Ken Follett
- What is code, by Paul Ford
- Marina, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
- Becoming Steve Jobs, by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli
- Gone girl, by Gillian Flynn
- Thinking, fast and slow, by Daniel Kahneman
- Expeditionen - min kärlekshistoria, by Bea Uusma
- Världens vinter, by Ken Follett
- Generation 64, by Jimmy Wilhelmsson and Kenneth Grönwall
- Inferno, by Dan Brown
- Yellow submarine, English interactive edition
- Giganternas fall, by Ken Follett
- Ensam i Berlin, by Hans Fallada
- Stora löparboken, by Hans Wiktorson
- Creativity, inc. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace
- Nionde arméns undergång - kampen om Berlin 1945, by Niclas Sennerteg
- Version control with Git, by Jon Loeliger and Matthew McCullough
- Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
- Ravioli, by Klas Östergren
- I döda språks sällskap, by Ola Wikander
- Berättelser från Engelsfors, by Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg
- En av oss, by Åsne Seierstad
- The great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Living with someone who's living with bipolar disorder, by Chelsea Lowe and Bruce M. Cohen
- Out of time in Wan chai, by Fan Tong
- Mitt liv som porrstjärna, by Puma Swede and Jan Ekholm
- The complete works of H.P. Lovecraft
- How to get filthy rich in rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid
- The new Avengers volume 1: Breakout, by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch
- On writing well, 30th anniversary edition, by William Zinsser
- Bipolar II disorder, modelling, measuring and managing, second edition, by Gordon Parker (editor)
- Eat and run, by Scott Jurek and Steve Friedman
- Knockout.js succinctly, by Ryan Hodson
- Clean code, by Robert Martin
- Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
- The mythical man-month, by Frederick Brooks
- Code complete (second edition), by Steve McConnell
- Mona Lisa overdrive, by William Gibson (yes, re-read)
- The art of readable code, by Dustin Boswell and Trevor Foucher
- Count Zero, by William Gibson (again, re-read)
- Neuromancer, by William Gibson (re-read, but last time was 15 or so years ago …)
- Churchill, by John Lukacs
- Tito - folkets diktator, by Björn Kumm
- Tweeting the universe, by Marcus Chown and Govert Schilling
- Andra världskrigets historia, by Liddell Hart
- Jag är din flickvän nu, by Nina Hemmingsson
- The bipolar disorder survival guide, by David Miklowitz
- Metro 2033, by Dmitry Glukhovsky
- C++ direkt, by Jan Skansholm
- Test-driven iOS development, by Graham Lee
- Sunset park, by Paul Auster
- Pushing ice, by Alastair Reynolds
- The difference engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
- Born to run, by Christopher McDougall
- Idea man, by Paul Allen
- Med Hitler till slutet, by Heinz Linge
- Insanely simple, by Ken Segall
- Lyckohjulet, by Jonas Hansson
- The art of deception, by Kevin Mitnick
- Neonomicon, by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows
- Doggy Monday, by Maria Sveland
- Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
- The arrival, by Shaun Tan
- Maria & José, by Erlend Loe och Kom Hiorthøy
- Stupid white men, by Michael Moore
- The design of everyday things, by Donald A. Norman
- Being geek, by Michael Lopp
- The elements of style, by William Strunk and E. B. White
- The Authoritarians, by Bob Altemeyer
- Seven languages in seven weeks, by Bruce A. Tate
- A mind in prison, by Bruno Manz
- Do androids dream of electric sheep? by Philip K. Dick
- Var är min syster? by Sven Nordqvist
- Svenska skrivregler, by Språkrådet
- Endless nights, by Neil Gaiman
- Ipad programming - a quick-start guide for Iphone developers, by Daniel H Steinberg and Eric T Freeman
- Textmate: power editing for the Mac, by James Edward Gray II
- In cold blood, by Truman Capote
- Harry Potter and the deathly hallows, by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the half-blood prince, by J.K. Rowling
- Nausicaä of the valley of the wind, by Hayao Miyazaki
- The catcher in the rye, by J.D. Salinger
- The Wake, by Neil Gaiman, part ten of the collected Sandman comic.
- Vad jag pratar om när jag pratar om löpning, by Haruki Murakami
- Vitt ark, by Simon Eidorson
- The pomodoro technique, by Francesco Cirillo
- The Harry Potter series part one to five, by J.K. Rowling, as audiobooks.
- Lika barn..., by Simon Eidorson
- The Kindly ones, by Neil Gaiman, part nine of the collected Sandman comic.
- The lost symbol, by Dan Brown
- Den som dödar draken, by Leif G.W. Persson
- Lev livet - det går inte i repris
- Coders at work, by Peter Seibel
- Beautiful code, edited by Andy Oram and Greg Wilson
- Iphone SDK development, by Bill Dudney and Chris Adamson
- I have life, Alison's journey, by Marianne Thamm
- No logo, by Naomi Klein
- GUI bloopers 2.0, by Jeff Johnson
- The angel's game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
- Snow crash, by Neal Stephenson
- Spook country, by William Gibson
- Bone, by Jeff Smith
- Jpod, by Douglas Coupland
- World's end, by Neil Gaiman, eigth part of the collected Sandman comic.
- RESTful web services, by Leonard Richardson and Sam Ruby
- Test-driven development by example, by Kent Beck
- The knowledge-creating company, byt Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi
- Compilers - principles, techniques and tools, by Aho, Lam, Sethi and Ullman
- Structure and interpretation of computer programs by Hal Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, and Julie Sussman
- Pragmatic thinking and learning - refactor your wetware, by Andy Hunt
- Practical common lisp, by Peter Seibel
- The algorithm design manual, by Steven Skinea
- Brief lives, by Neil Gaiman. The seventh part of the collected Sandman comic.
- Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell
- Mahatma!, by Zac O'Yeah
- Gomorra, by Roberto Saviano
- Inshallah, by Donald Boström
- Montecore, by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
- Hemsöborna, by August Strindberg
- Everything is illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer
- The time machine, by HG Wells
- Egalias döttrar, by Gerd Brantenberg
- The secret history of Star wars, by Michael Kaminski
- Learning Cocoa with Objective C, by James Duncan Davidson
- Cocoa programming for Mac OS X, by Aaron Hillegass
- Människa utan hund, by Håkan Nesser
- Tyskungen, by Camilla Läckberg
- Carolus Rex, by Ernst Brunner
January 23, 2019
For a while, I hoped it was the cable.
But now, I think I have landed back on the same thing everyone affected already seems to know: there are way too few good USB-C hubs and docks out there. Perhaps the standards are too complicated, the bandwidths too narrow. But I suspect people are perhaps just too optimistic, putting all the things in a hub which should work fine in theory, leaving it up to users to discover the true limitations.
My most common problem is with any type of USB-C (or thunderbolt) to HDMI adapter which also provides any other port. Straight USB-C to HDMI adapters have been rock solid for me, but the ones I have tried with more ports all land on the same problem much too often: the computer will wake up, other connected devices will work as usual, but the screen will not light up.
The computer will know the screen is there, it will show up in display settings, and all windows will stay in place. I can drag the cursor out into the space and so on, just not see it. Power cycling the hub will usually get things back in order, an activity which feels somewhat counter to the idea of using a hub to need to plug and unplug fewer things.
Things might get worse under heavier load as well. I have used the same hub at home for … a good while (a year?) now, and while it had the above problem it was at least pretty rare. But a little while ago, I noticed the monitor looked fuzzier than usual. Turns out it sometimes ends up detected as being capable of less than its native resolution, and again power cycling seems to be the solution.
A week ago, I threw an otherwise well-behaved USB ethernet adapter into the mix, and this has clearly made everything worse. Now I can get all kinds of mixes of problems, like ethernet but no monitor, ethernet and lower resolution monitor, or neither plus the USB ports on the ethernet adapter being well and truly dead too.
Yes, adapters plugging into adapters. I have become that person, one piece at a time.
I read somewhere at some point that USB hubs need to negotiate or otherwise advertise their abilities to computers, and that this process can end up with different results depending on when a device is or is not connected. I wonder if this is my issue, that a bunch of things suddenly appear to the computer and something along the chain fails to sort everything out.
I wish for a command I could send straight over the USB bus using terminal or something to shock things into order.
Is there a magic incantation I could do?
Is there a problem to be solved by throwing money at it?
And (the question anything touched by USB-C keeps asking itself) why is all this not simply a solved problem in 2019?
(Disconnected the Macbook and sat down in the sofa to type this. Man, this screen looks sharp!)
January 06, 2019
Christmas was really good. New year's eve was great.
It took, more or less, all of the past week to recover. I feel a lot more prepared to start this coming week than the one just wrapping up. The todo lists are somewhat back in sync, running projects are starting to feel like they are moving again. That spirit of starting a bit fresh is in the air, drifting between the bits and bytes of everyday life.
I think I have managed to start the year checking Facebook somewhat less often as well, which is all good. My reflexive rotation right now is Twitter, Instagram and Discord. Uh, and Slack of course, but enough goes on there that it bleeds out of reflexve checking and more into the flow of going about my day. Especially at work. But I am better at not checking Slack as well, I turned off notifications and badges a while ago and can come back to an unexpected number of unreads which completely fails to stress me.
I think I am at or near inbox zero. For email, I am definitely there. There are tons of read messages hanging around in my mail inboxes, but the mental weight is zero. Nothing is lost, nothing is anxiously being waited for, and nothing needs to be sorted into neat piles.
The feeling of starting fresh is greatly helped by work moving into a new office just before Christmas. Desks have been set up and most boxes unpacked, so there is both a sense of being settled in enough to be comfortable, and that sense of everything being just slightly up in the air, new and exciting. People mix differently, and until inevitable annoyances are discovered it is just fun to find out how that changes dynamics and information flows. I have not yet felt the need to lock myself away in a conference room or home office, so thumbs up for that as well.
(We also have roughly a million places to go for lunch within walking distance, so give a shout if you happen to be in central Gothenburg around lunch time.)
Writing music: Shadow spirits, vol. 1.