Opinion


Calendar

The International Fixed Calendar

12th August 2019 PERMALINK • 2 min read

I came across the idea of having a fixed, 13-month calendar, on Reddit, and it immediately sparked my interest. Each month would have four weeks, and every month would start on a Monday.

Someone then shared a link to the Wikipedia page of something called the “International Fixed Calendar“. Either this is where the Redditor got the idea from, or it’s just a coincidence. Anyway, it sounds good to me!

It means that every single day of the year will always be the same day of the week. Which, in my opinion, makes so much sense.

So every month would look like this:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Thirteenth Month

The proposed name for the thirteenth month would be “Sol”, and it would be placed between June and July. The name Sol represents the Sun, as it falls on the mid-year solstice.

Recalculation

This would, of course, require all current dates to be recalculated. So your birthday would change, and other events like Easter, that change every year.

Leap Years

You may be thinking “this sounds good, but what about leap years?”. You’ll be pleased to know that the idea of a “Leap Day”, it occurs on the 29th of June. However, it is not classed as being part of any week, and is situated between the Saturday June 28 and Sunday Sol 1.

New Years Day

It’s a similar situation for New Years Day. But as you may already know, this happens every year. New Years Day would be another “bonus” day on the 29th of December. It too is between the last Saturday of the year, and the first Sunday of the proceeding year.

Why Aren’t We Using It?

There’s three main reasons why were aren’t using this calendar right now:

  • It doesn’t easily support quarters. Right now we have three months in a quarter, but in this calendar, it would be three months and one week.
  • Some religions oppose it, as traditions like worshiping on every seventh day, would mess up on a Leap Day or New Years Day.
  • We just aren’t used to it. And therefore a lot of dates would have to be changed, and the systems we have in place would need to adapt.

Converter

There’s no converter online that I can find right now, so hopefully I can find one soon, or maybe I’ll have to make one and upload it myself.

Opinion

Focussing on the Wrong Things When Starting a Blog

6th August 2019 PERMALINK • 2 min read

Whenever I read about blogging, whether it’s people asking how to get started, tips on how to be better, or just anything in general about writing online, I tend to disagree quite a lot on the feedback that is shared.

I think that, especially when you are starting to write a blog, nearly everything that I see being suggested is detrimental.

Everyone’s telling you to start worrying about SEO, prioritise getting your website linked to from popular websites, working out monetisation, creating a schedule, creating the perfect design, blah, blah, blah.

If you are trying to start a blog, then the best advice is to just start writing, and then press publish. Sure, it might not be the best content you’ll ever produce, but it’s something. Then with the experience of writing and publishing that post, the next one will be slightly better.

Maybe no-one will ever see your first blog post, but that’s not exactly important. The most important thing is that you wrote it. And with it being made available for the world to read, I’m sure you’ll immediately find something you could have done better. So you learn from these mistakes and fix them in the next. These aren’t necessarily mistakes, just a representation of experience, which of course, comes with time.

Just like experience, in time your audience will grow, and if they like your content, they’ll come back. And maybe they’ll even think about sharing it with other people. But the content needs to be there before they can do that, and it needs to provide them with some level of value. But even that isn’t majorly important when you start.

Your aim should be to produce the best content you can. And if people value that content, then even better. If your aim is to make the most money possible or to get high numbers on your analytics, then in my opinion, you’re focussing on the wrong thing.

Maybe I’m too much a fantasist in that I think every blogger should at least be attempting to produce great content. But isn’t that the most logical target? If not, then I think you’re blogging for the wrong reason.

After you’ve built up a body of work, and still regularly providing content, then it wouldn’t hurt to try and get that content to more people. But it’s not the most important thing. And I would argue that it’s especially not important for people that just want to start blogging.

All I’m saying is, if you want to start blogging, then the only thing that matters is getting words out of your head, and published somewhere. You don’t need to worry about the overall theme of your content, your writing style, the name of your blog, getting the perfect domain name, figuring out what tools you want to use, you’ll figure that out once you’ve actually started.

The most important thing is that you actually start.


If after all of this you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. Simply write it all down and publish it to your blog. Then write some more, and some more, and maybe send me a link.

Ten Days With a Nintendo Switch and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!
Nintendo Switch

Ten Days With a Nintendo Switch and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!

22nd February 2019 PERMALINK • 9 min read

I got my Nintendo Switch just 10 days ago. It’s the Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu edition. I have just that game for it, and I’ve been playing it pretty much non-stop since I’ve got it, and I thought I’d share my opinions so far.


Contents


The Nintendo Switch

The console overall feels like the ultimate Nintendo console. It’s perfectly capable of being a great handheld device, but also super easy to just place it in the dock and play games on a television. I especially like the controller combinations, as there are quite a few. You can simple attach the Joy Cons to the console, play with one/two separately, use the “dog ears” controller (I like that name so much, I’m not bothering to find out the official one), and even the Pokéball controller that came with my Switch.

It feels powerful, while also being really customisable, and flexible to your needs.

My Pokémon Background

I’ve been interested in Pokémon ever since I was a child, and to put it bluntly, I was obsessed. I watched every episode of the series, played every game, watched every movie, and had a ton of Pokémon toys. My first game was Pokémon Yellow for the GameBoy Color. It was released in the UK in the year 2000, just before my 8th birthday. I’m not too sure when I actually got the game myself, but I can imagine it was pretty near that date. I kept it on me at all times, and become pretty attached to it.

Of course, over the years I’ve grown to be slightly less obsessed with the franchise. But I still play all the games, watch all the movies, and try to watch some episodes of the tv series. I’ve also been a pretty regular Pokémon GO player since it was released a few years ago.

I’m a big fan.

Initial Reaction

When I first started hearing about the game I wasn’t sure about it. I remember people reporting that it would be very similar to the simple playing style of Pokémon GO, and I was not pleased about that at all. But there was an interview with two people from Game Freak that cleared up a few things, and reassured me a bit.

Then the videos started to come out and to be honest, I was still a bit unsure how the gameplay would feel, compared to the original games. The main questions I had were about how you caught Pokémon, not being able to battle with wild Pokémon, and that the randomness about finding Pokémon seemed to be ruined by your ability to see all the Pokémon walking in the grass before you even initiated anything.

However, when I first launched Pokémon, Let’s Go, I was pleasantly surprised. And all of my worries about the game instantly went away. It just felt as if it was a perfect evolution of the game series, and everything made sense. The artwork was brilliant, and I loved the initial introduction with Pikachu. While the map is the same, everything is brighter, in much more detail, and of course, it’s in all three dimensions! So even just exploring the map is fun.

Gameplay

Seeing Pokémon in the Wild

One of the biggest changes in the gameplay was that you now see wild Pokémon running around in the grass. Before playing the game I thought this was a terrible idea, after playing the game I now find it one of the best changes they made.

Turns out, seeing the actual Pokémon running around in their natural habitats is actually very enjoyable. And there’s a lot of fun to be had chasing down a Growlithe or swerving away from a Zubat. It doesn’t entirely mean that you will be able to see every Pokémon though, as I’ve had a few occasions where they’ve appeared right next to me, and started an immediate encounter. So there’s still some surprise-factor left in the game.

Catching Pokémon

Another thing that I thought would take some time adjusting to, was the new paradigm around catching Pokémon. Instead of the previous process, where you would encounter a Pokémon in the wild, battle it, and then lower its HP so you could catch it easier. You simply encounter a Pokémon, and you can start throwing Pokéballs at it!

There’s still a level of complexity to it though, as there are better Pokéballs you can use to have a better chance of capturing a Pokémon, and also berries. They were in previous games, but the actual implementation in this game comes from Pokémon GO. Each berry has its own benefit, and I think they work well. Especially the Nanab Berry, which when used, makes Pokémon move less and therefore easier to catch.

That also leads me into the thing I most enjoy about the new way to catch Pokémon. It feels a lot more realistic because some Pokémon move more than others, which may require you to move around to get a good shot. In general, it appears as if they’re acting with a level of personality. At least enough to distinguish behaviours between different types of Pokémon.

Comparison With the Original

Most of the game seems the same as the original Kanto games. But there’s a few changes and some improvements. Such as the music. It features the same melodies, but in much higher quality, and what feels like more depth.

The map is the same, or at least so far it seems to be. I can’t imagine there being major differences later on, but at least so far I’ve only noticed one small change. And that’s a little Meowth sleeping above an entrance to something.

The way HM (hidden machines) work is different in this game. And for me, the changes are very welcome. In the past, a HM was taught to a Pokémon as a move, so it would be available in battle. But of course, it would take up space. Now they’re taught to your partner Pokémon (Pikachu or Eevee) and are worded slightly different, with Cut being replaced by a Chop Down ability.

External TV

I know it’s a fundamental part of the Nintendo Switch, but I have to comment on the fact that it’s just so easy to dock the console and have it just continue on a television. Pokémon also runs perfectly, which I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by either.

This is the single way I charge the device as well. As I tend to only play it in handheld mode if I’m commuting, or if someone else is watching television, and I’m just sat on the sofa playing it. So I haven’t actually seen a low battery warning more than twice I think.

I also noticed that the graphics were slightly better on the TV, and since looking at the tech specs, I can see that the Switch can output 1080p to a TV, but the handheld screen is only 720p. It doesn’t detract from the handheld display though, as I find it absolutely perfect.

Playing a Pokémon game on a 50″ television is something that may sound a bit silly at first, but it’s a very fun experience!

Pokeball Controller

When I was looking to buy a Switch, this was something I honestly didn’t care for. As I expected it to be a “companion” controller, and would only add a minuscule amount of playability to the game.

I was proved wrong as soon as I started playing with it. Mainly because you can play the entire game with just the Pokéball, and even when it only has two buttons and a joystick!

There’s a lot of fun parts to it as well. It not only makes noises and vibrates as you play the game, but it also acts like a real Pokéball would do when you’re trying to capture a Pokémon. The lights flashes and changes colour like the one in-game, and it also makes realistic Pokéball noises.

It also comes with a Mew “inside”, which you can transfer immediately to the game!

My Overall Experience With How I’m Playing the Game

Okay, so you can probably tell that I’m really enjoying the game so far. But there are a few extra points that I’d like to make, that really add to how I played the game.

One thing I noticed, was that it seems as if there’s a more diverse selection of Pokémon that appear in the game. Of course, there’s still only the same 151 Pokémon, but they seem spread out a bit more. Maybe this is down to the fact that you “see” Pokémon before you start an encounter, and therefore are aware of it more. But it certainly adds to the realism aspect of the game.

Of course, you wouldn’t find a fish Pokémon running round in the grass, but I’ve seen Growlithe just south of Cerulean City, and also just north of Vermillion City, either side of the tunnel. That’s not something I’ve seen in previous games. I’ve also spotted Rhyhorn and Cubone in Rock Tunnel, which both surprised me! And I can’t remember where exactly, but I caught a Kangaskhan really early on, possibly in Rock Tunnel, but certainly before you get the fourth badge.

How I played the game was slightly skewed from my knowledge of the previous games, in that I know the entire map, and how everything is tied together. But there’s also a few things that are different in this game. So while I could play through quite quickly, I’m taking my time to experience everything as if I’d never played it before. Part of me wants to explore every single part of the game and trying to spot where it’s different. Another part of me wants to just enjoy the content. And at the same time, I just want to catch every Pokémon and complete my Pokédex.

Overall I felt that the game allows for various types of gameplay. Sometimes I’m sat down in front of a television and I want to really get into the game, and focus on every bit of the content, and other times I’m laying on the sofa and I just want to catch a few Pokémon with the Pokéball controller. Then there are times when I’m commuting to/from work, and I use it as a handheld device. It’s something that can be used wherever you are, no matter the situation, and that’s something I really enjoy about the console as a whole, and Pokémon specifically, as it’s a game that lends itself well to different contexts.

The Future

I haven’t finished the game yet, and although I got my first three badges in just a few days, I plan on playing the game at a slower pace. Especially as I aim to complete my Pokédex.

As a Pokémon GO player, I’m also interested seeing how they work together. As you’re able to transfer Pokémon GO to Pokemon Let’s Go, after you’ve reached Fuchsia City. But as I haven’t reached that, I don’t even know what it looks like. I’ll probably wait until I’m relatively complete though, as I don’t want to “cheat”.

What else is great, is that there’s also another Pokémon game planned for release in 2019! So hopefully I can completely finish the game off before it comes out. It will be interesting to see if that follows in the footsteps of Lets Go, or if it will continue where the traditional series left off.

Apart from Pokémon games, I’m also thinking about getting Zelda and Mario in the future. We’ll have to see how that turns out though.

Anyway, I better go now. The Silph Scope isn’t going to find itself!

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald
Opinion

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald

18th November 2018 PERMALINK • 1 min read

I’ve literally just finished watching the second film of the Fantastic Beasts series, and I thought I’d try and get out what I thought of it while it’s still fresh. Just for additional information, I watched it in IMAX 2D.

It was incredible in so many ways, but maybe the best part was seeing the wizarding world from a whole new perspective. Everyone remembers Newt Scamander from the original Harry Potter series, but he was only an author of a textbook then. And in the first Fantastic Beasts film we did start to get to know him as a person, but you learn quite a bit more in this film.

I can’t fault anything with the film, but I will have to now go and do some research on everything, because I need a few things cleared up!

The revelations in the film will truly shock you. However, I cannot reveal anything. I already can’t wait for the next instalment.

#ProtectTheSecrets
Opinion

My Opinions on the Comparison Between the iPad Pro and A “Real Computer”

9th November 2018 PERMALINK • 3 min read

The new iPad Pro has been released, so of course it’s time for everyone to discuss how it can’t be used as a work device.

In my opinion a big part of the arguments stem from the idea of it being a laptop replacement. And this leads to a lot of comparisons of apps, and tasks that people do on their Mac, and how they’d accomplish it on an iPad. Some of the time, you find some really good discussions on where a Mac or iPad would be better suited, or things that could be improved. But most of the time I don’t find the comparisons to be very helpful at all, and the rhetoric of not doing work on an iPad, is for some reason, still a thing.

There’s quite a lot of things that I think cause this type of reaction, and hopefully I’ll manage to explain all of them, in this rant-style piece.

First of all, the reviews are not always being done by people who use the device full-time, or do a substantial about of tasks on it. I wouldn’t be able to review a windows laptop very well, simply because I don’t use one, or even know anything about them anymore. Therefore my opinion would be completely worthless, and would only provide inaccurate information to the debate.

Also, I think the comparisons between the devices are being done are mostly too high-level. The problem is being abstracted away so much, that what’s left is checking if a Mac app is available on iOS, or if a workflow can be done in the exact same way. They’re not trying to solve an actual issue, or ask themselves what else can this device do that I couldn’t do before.

This shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but macOS and iOS are different operating systems. And the way to do something is not always going to be the same. Maybe the question you have to ask yourself when trying to see if the iPad could work for you, is “How can I reproduce my expected result using the iPad?”. Instead of trying to replicate the exact process. It’s a nice thing to have if everything works the same, but it doesn’t devalue the iPad as a platform, just because the way it does things is different.

Another thing I see, and I think it’s becoming noticed by more people, is that reviewers tend to project their own situation a bit too much. For example if the reviewer couldn’t use an iPad full-time, or if a specific group of tech people can’t either, then it must mean the device is the problem, and that no-one can use it for work. A lot of professionals exist outside the tech community, and a lot of them happily use the iPad for their work. But a lot of reviewers tend to ignore these people. Not every person is in the tech community.

It leads to another misconception, that if you can’t do your work on an iOS, then the iOS platform is somehow behind. Sure, there are loads of places where iOS can be improved. One of my biggest wishes is some way to develop apps for iOS, on iOS itself, that would be a huge chunk of users that could then do work on the iPad. But it doesn’t necessarily automatically apply to all work. For example, does a farmer moan about his tractor because he can’t do his taxes on it? No. It’s just one of the many tools they use to do their work. And the iPad is just another tool that people can use.

My last complaint is what I regularly see on Twitter, and that’s when people want proof about how people use their iPad, and they want the people that do happily use them for work, to explain how other people can as well. I don’t like this. They tend to put blame on happy iPad users, why they can’t become one themselves. Maybe this stems from jealousy, but it’s annoying to see.

I’ll end on what my current situation is: I like to work on my iPad, and I’d like to work even more on it, but that doesn’t mean the iPad is necessarily bad.

If anyone wants to know about why they can’t work on an iPad, my answer is: “I like to work on my iPad, and I can do a great deal on it. If you can’t, then oh well.”

Opinion

Customers, Not Users →

8th October 2018 PERMALINK • 1 min read

K.Q. Dreger, writing for Audacious Fox:

A lot of software isn’t free. Plenty of people pay to use products. Yet, we call these people users in most of our copy and internal communications. Should we?

What if we tried calling them what they actually are: customers.

I strongly believe everything he says in this article.

I’ve seen many people list reasons why you should refer to customers of your product/service a user, whether it’s a blog post, on Twitter, or even on laptop stickers. I however, prefer the term customer.

The way the word “user” gets thrown about always feels pretty weak, and it just seems like a bit of a nice word. It means you treat them simply as people that use something that you’re offering. But what if they’ve paid you for that thing? Surely they you should grant them a bit of respect and refer to them as why they actually are, a paying customer.

What I Think About Clips and Where It Could Take Content Sharing
App

What I Think About Clips and Where It Could Take Content Sharing

7th April 2017 PERMALINK • 2 min read

Apple released Clips yesterday, which is their new app for creating fun videos, with various filters, music, and more. I covered this app before, but as I hadn’t played around with the app at that point, it was literally just explaining the features.

But now I’ve had over a day with the app, and I must say I’m really loving it. It’s even earned it’s place on my Home screen!

The design of the app itself is quite nice, but I’m not sure I feel the same way about the icon. And it just feels easy to use, which I guess is the main focus.

I didn’t think I’d say this, but I also like the filters! The comic book one is by far my favourite, everything looks good in it!

There’s a lot of talk about the usage of private APIs, and how the app itself doesn’t ask for permission to use things like the camera or microphone, but seeing as this is an Apple app, I’m not too worried.

Another thing I like about Clips, is the exporting options. I had wondered how Apple would select social networks that would be included, but using a (completely custom) share sheet, is a good way to avoid any issues. Because this means any app can enable support for Clips, by adding video importing. One option I’m very thankful of, is YouTube, because it’s really fast (and super easy) to upload a Clip, and have it available near instantly.

I had some interesting mail today, and this gave me the opportunity to make use of Clips title features and music. Which I think turned out pretty well!

Finally, there’s something else I must say about Clips, and the type of app/service it could be enabling. And although the app is purely a way to capture, and edit videos, I think the content that people will create in Clips could change the way people watch videos.

We all know the issues with YouTube, there’s advertisement problems, the creators seem to always be annoyed about something, and it generally lacks competition. But one thing we can take from YouTube, is that people love Vlogs. Which are essentially a video version of a blog post, it’s a visual way to understand someone else’s life.

Blogs used to be huge, and while I still really enjoy writing my own, and reading other’s blog posts. But since then, microblogging services have taken over, with Twitter being the main service.

What I’m thinking is, if Twitter took blogging and made it micro, so then more people could take part, and share more content, more often. What if Clips could make vlogging micro? It would need another service of course, but it could just make use of whatever social network they’re on. I personally think that this app, along with competing apps that will no doubt turn up soon, will be the catalyst for upgrading the type of content that is shared.

macOS

My Opinions on Setapp

29th January 2017 PERMALINK • 1 min read

A few days ago Setapp was released to the public, but I was fortunate enough to be in the beta, so I’ve had a lot of experience with it. If you don’t know about Setapp already, it’s a subscription-based service that gives users access to a huge bunch of great macOS apps.

If I calculate correctly, this is my second month using Setapp, and it’s been great. I’ve had access to so many great applications, that before I wouldn’t of even thought about, or even heard of.

But after all of this time, there’s only a few applications that I have actually launched:

  • CleanMyMac
  • CodeRunner
  • iStat Menus
  • MoneyWiz
  • Ulysses

CleanMyMac is something I’ve ran a few times, just so I could get an idea on the state of my new MacBook.

CodeRunner is actually quite a nifty application, it’s basically a text editor for programmers, that can actually compile and execute code itself. I played around with this a few times when doing Java at university, but it wasn’t something I stuck with.

iStat Menus is probably the only consistent app I use from Setapp, and that’s really just providing me with a few useful stats, that I could realistically live without. Because my Mac isn’t at any stage where I need to worry about resources.

I think I’ve opened MoneyWiz about three times, once to set it up, and then twice to check out my transactions. It’s a nice idea, but not something I need.

Ulysses, maybe my favourite application out of the lot. But I’ve been doing a bit less writing recently, so I haven’t used it as much. I do have iA Writer, and then there’s Bear, so it’s not a necessity, although Ulysses is a well made app.

From a usability point of view, Setapp has worked perfectly. And it does provide a great deal of applications for a little amount of money a month.

However, my problem is that I simply don’t need these applications. And although a few of them are nice to have, it doesn’t warrant any kind of subscription fee.

Check out Setapp for yourself and see if it’s right for you.

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