Opinion

Taking The Chance

2nd March 2021

A lot of the good things in life seem to only happen by chance. Which can be good if it happens to you, but can make you feel a bit jealous if it happens to someone else.

I’ve had my fair share of luck during my life. But I think I also had a part to play in getting that luck.

Because in my opinion, even if you get a chance at something, you still need to be ready for it.

For example, if you get a chance switching to your ideal career, you need to be ready and willing to make that change. Otherwise that chance may just pass you by.

Other times you need to earn your luck.

We've all heard of a few "overnight successes", but deep down we know that no success actually happens overnight. Or at least, it doesn’t happen overnight, without the countless hours of work that went into it beforehand.

So while luck may seem to be spontaneous, you need to put yourself in a position where you can better receive luck, and be ready to take the chance when it arrives.


This post is for day 2 of the  March Blogging Challenge, the theme today is Chance.

Personal

I'm Not a Routine Person

1st March 2021

One thing people always talk about when trying to increase productivity, or as some kind of self-improvement kick, is to work on building regular habits in order to make a certain behaviour happen more often and become routine. But as much as I like the idea of doing things regularly, like blogging or even developing apps, I’m not actually a fan of having a routine.

I’m not exactly much of a planner either, so maybe that gives you a better idea of the type of person I am. Because again, while I like the idea of having a planned life and building plans, I’m not someone that likes to stick to them.

Instead, I prefer to make decisions on the fly, and just to take each day as it comes. Maybe this means I’m living in the moment or something, I don't know. But I know I'd much rather have a day with no plans, and just see what happens, than having regular tasks that need to be done.

I would say the only part of my adult life where I had minimal routine was when I was at university. Maybe that sounds odd, given I had four regular classes, and also worked part-time. However, university was only a few hours a day, and the classes would range from 9 am to 5 pm, so I had a lot of free time in between. But the best part of that free time was that it didn’t match up with anyone else’s. So I was free to just do whatever I wanted. And given I went to university in London, there was quite a lot I could do.

I had a zoo membership, so I frequently popped into London Zoo, and being a skateboarder, I went to Southbank a few times, and I went to the obvious tourist locations too. But in general, I just went to some random places with absolutely no plans. It was pretty fun.

But when I got a job, the routine kicked in, and my workday was (including commuting) from 7 am to 7 pm. So there wasn’t a lot of free time for any spontaneous decisions or trips.

I did try moving my working hours an hour earlier, which made my day a lot better. But nowhere near the level that working from home has.

We all know what’s going on, so I don’t need to explain much. But essentially, since being made to work from home, I’ve had a sense of that freedom, and it’s making life a lot more fun. I can sit in the garden when it’s sunny, go out for lunch (when I’m allowed), and just generally fit work around my life. Rather than adapting to the schedule that my company assigns me.

I think this may sound pretty odd, but one thing I’ve really liked about working from home is the ability to have a lunch-time shower. I can’t work out why that is.

Nonetheless, it’s clear to me that I’m not a fan of having a routine. Especially when it's dictated by someone else.


This post is for day 1 of the  March Blogging Challenge, the theme today is Routine.

Photography

Ashridge Forest Photos

27th February 2021

I visited Ashridge earlier today, which is a rather large forest that's only a short car ride from where I live. I didn't miss up the oppurtunity to take my camera, and there was some absolutely incredible light.

My camera is the Fujifilm X-T100, and I used two lenses, the XC 50-230mm zoom lens, and the XC 35mm prime. But I captured a few on my iPhone 12 too, as teh ultra-wide lens seemed perfect for a woodland scene.

After going through a few hundred photos, I came out with 24 that I really like. I've uploaded them all to Flickr, so you can view the entire album there. But for a quick preview, here are five of my favourites:

View all 24 photos.

game

Pokémon Presents: Three New Pokémon Games!

26th February 2021

With the big #Pokémon25 event happening very soon on Pokémon Day, there was a Pokemon Presents event in which unveiled three new games.

There's a new Pokémon Snap game, which focusses on a new region, the Lental region. I just say, it looks really nice, and I'm sure will be a great game to relax with.

Then there are two games focussed on the Sinnoh region that we experienced in Diamond and Pearl.

The first being a remake of both version, taking it from the DS and bringing it to the Nintendo Switch. These are Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and they're being released later this year.

And the last game is based in the Sinnoh region, but not the one we all know. This one goes back in time to the beginnings of Sinnoh, back when the Pokémon roamed free, and it was just a simple village. So instead of completing a Pokédex, your job will actually be to go out and create the first version of the Pokédex.

The gameplay sounds really interesting, as apparently, you'll need to catch, survey, and wild Pokémon. The way Poké Balls work seems to be a bit different as well:

To catch Pokémon in the Pokémon Legends: Arceus game, you can observe them to learn their behavior, then carefully sneak up, aim your Poké Ball™, and let fly!

You can also have your ally Pokémon battle wild Pokémon that you hope to catch. Just throw the Poké Ball holding your ally Pokémon near a wild Pokémon, and you’ll seamlessly enter battle and command your Pokémon by choosing from moves it knows.

Legends: Arceus

That game is called Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and it's the one I'm most looking forward too, mainly because of the change of perspective.

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until early 2022 for that, but we'll have Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl to play before then.

Technology

Introducing the Framework Laptop →

25th February 2021

Nirav Patel, introducing the Framework Laptop:

At Framework, we believe the time has come for consumer electronics products that are designed to last. Founded in San Francisco in 2019, our mission is to empower you with great products you can easily customize, upgrade, and repair, increasing longevity and reducing e-waste in the process.

Today, we are excited to unveil our first product: the Framework Laptop, a thin, lightweight, high-performance 13.5” notebook that can be upgraded, customized, and repaired in ways that no other notebook can.

— Nirav Patel, Introducing the Framework Laptop

As much as I do like a few parts of this laptop:

  • It looks like a Mac.
  • Customisable ports.
  • Easy to replace components.
  • An actual good quality webcam.

You are still limited to running Windows or Linux (or maybe it could be a Hackintosh?). And I have no plans to ever own a Windows or Linux machine.

So it's not for me.

But I still think it's a fascinating idea, and I hope it will become a success, because I really like the idea of being able to repair and upgrade your own computer, and at a reasonable cost.

Harry Potter

Hogwarts Legacy

25th February 2021

I came across this game a while ago, but either not a lot of information was available then, or for some reason I didn’t pay much attention.

But I must say, I’m holding out a lot of hope for this game, because it looks and sounds absolutely incredible.

Hogwarts Legacy will be an open-world action RPG, which I must say is becoming one my favourite genre. It’s set in the 1880s, and also follows the existing Wizarding World lore that was created in the Harry Potter books. So it means no Harry, Ron, or Hermione. But at the same time I’m glad that it won’t try to break away from the already existing lore, because if it did that would write the game off instantly for me.

The game tales place in Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade Village, and some other new and familiar locations. That makes me very interested. And also makes me wonder if any new locations introduced in this game will be treated as official lore.

It sounds like you’re going to have as real a Hogwarts student experience as possible, as you will be able to choose your house at the beginning of your journey, learn new spells, craft potions, finesse combat skills, and even have companions that can fight alongside you.

One part of the game that intrigues me is this: “Players will also encounter missions and scenarios that will pose difficult choices and determine what they stand for.”. I hope that means the choices that players make will actually have an effect on the open-world.

The players back story is curious, I wonder what this “ancient magic” is, and if it’s something new to the lore:

Experience Hogwarts in the 1800s. Your character is a student who holds the key to an ancient secret that threatens to tear the wizarding world apart. You have received a late acceptance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and soon discover that you are no ordinary student: you possess an unusual ability to perceive and master Ancient Magic. Only you can decide if you will protect this secret for the good of all, or yield to the temptation of more sinister magic.

The game will be released in 2022, and will be available on the obvious consoles, the PS4, PS5, whatever the various Xbox models are called, and also PC. I’m not sure if that includes the Mac. But that doesn’t bother me. This game is the sort of game that I wouldn’t mind buying a console for.

Writing

Ghost on the iPad, a Review →

25th February 2021

Jeff Perry on the Ghost blogging platform, and his experiences using it on an iPad:

Aside from moving Tablet Habit to a newsletter format, I also moved the entire website from WordPress hosting on EasyWP to Ghost. As an iOS user, I was worried Ghost would be an inferior product on the iPad and iPhone compared to the desktop. I am pleased to say my worry was for nothing.

I wanted to share my perspective on using Ghost on the iPad and how I think Ghost can improve this going forward.

— Jeff Perry, Ghost on the iPad, a Review

I use Ghost to host this blog and my newsletter, so it's good to see someone else enjoying it. Jeff's experience seems to match up with mine, it's a great service, but it can still be improved in a few ways like he mentions.

One of the big reasons why I think I'll stick with Ghost is the member/newsletter support. Without that integration, I could imagine switching back to WordPress in the future. But for now, everything seems pretty good here.

Photography

The Toy Camera Filter on My Fujifilm X-T100

24th February 2021

One of the best things about Fujifilm cameras is the built-in film simulation modes, which give you various monochrome options, Astia, Velvia, Provia, and more. I find that they aren't too harsh, and seems to mostly improve the look of my photos. They aren't applied to the RAW file, so it doesn't take anything away from the image.

However, there's also an "Advanced Filter" mode, which gives you some more filters and effects. Although they are a lot more obtrusive. There's quite a few, including partial colour filters, soft focus, and pop colour. But the one I have the most fun with is "Toy Camera". The description it gives is "Create shaded borders as taken by toycameras. (nostalgic effect)".

I can't say it will produce the most professional photos, but as a person that enjoys retro camera apps on the iPhone, such as Dispo, Huji, and Hipstamatic, it's fun to have it directly in my real camera too.

Here are a few quick examples:

I'll have to give the other filters a try now, and I'll see what I can get when I can actually leave my house and go somewhere interesting.

Gaming

25 Years of Pokémon - Five things you didn't know →

22nd February 2021

Jordan Middler, writing for The Social on the BBC:

Do you think you’re the very best, like no one ever was? Caught them all? Maybe even you know the Pokerap off by heart? You might think you’re a regular Gary Oak, but there’s plenty about the original Pokémon games that a lot of Ace Trainers don’t know. So here are a few facts about the world’s largest entertainment property that may surprise you.

— Jordan Middler, 25 Years of Pokémon: Five things you didn't know

He's got a few surprises that you might not know, such as Pokémon names that were changed, and a possibility of a different mascot.

Writing

My Experience With Werdsmith

22nd February 2021

As part of my challenge to find my ideal writing app, I turned to Werdsmith to see if it could handle my writing needs.

Werdsmith piqued my interest with claims about it being your “personal, portable writers studio”, it’s multiple themes, and “formats for every writer”. Initially, it seemed like it would be an app only for people like screenwriters, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway.

Sadly I was at least partially correct, it does indeed feel that Werdsmith is designed for a certain type of writer, and one that doesn’t seem to include myself.

Organising Your Writing

The first part of Werdsmith that made me think that the app wasn’t for me was the very simple document organisation.

There are two sections, ideas and projects. Writing starts as an idea, and then you can convert it to a project later on. This rather simple organisation makes me think that the app is best used with a minimal amount of projects. So not one that can be used with a large collection of well-organised documents.

Writing

The writing experience in Werdsmith is certainly distraction-free, the interface is quite minimal, and leaves you with just your writing.

However, the Markdown support is pretty lacking, and so are the formatting options in general. You have two headers, bold, italics, and quotes. So not exactly many options to choose from. Not even lists or images.

In addition to the formatting options, you have the option to set an overall format for the document. There are four to choose from, which I think shows the designed purposes of the app. The formats are text, novel, screenplay, or poem. I assume the text format was meant to be the one for general-purpose writing, but I honestly think it may as well not be there.

Export Options

There are export options, so it’s possible to use that to either move documents around or use it to trigger various automations. It’s rather simple, as it just exports the title and text contents of a document, but at least it’s there.

Final Thoughts

This review isn’t as detailed as it would have been if I had tried it out for a longer period, but that essentially shows how far I got with the app.

I’m not a novel or screenplay writer, so I can’t comment on how well it performs for what seems to be the target user, but I can say that it’s not the app for me. The document organisation, writing experience, and markdown support are all things that disappointed me. So while I may have liked other parts of Werdsmith, the fundamentals just didn’t click with me.

So it looks like I’ll be checking out another writing app, which I think will be 1Writer.

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