Tech. Music. Games.



Back when I was living in Dundee, my girlfriend (at the time) and I decided to get a couple of cats. It wasn’t the ideal situation, given we lived in a tiny apartment, but we weren’t planning on staying there for long, and I was desperate to have some furry friends in the house.

We ended up with two; Jack and Stella. One boy. One girl. It was hard to believe they were brother and sister. Jack was twice her size. She was shy, he was a noisey brat. She was cute and timid, he was in your face and stealing anything that wasn’t glued down. And I loved them both.

Jack was always “my” cat, though. I’m not sure how that ended up being the case, but it was my lap he’d end up on, I was the one that scritched him “just right” and when my girlfriend and I split up, he was the one she wanted rid of.

He was loud, he was cheeky, and I’m fairly sure he wound her up on purpose.

For a long time it was just me and him. In true cat fashion he owned me, but I was able to train him not to wake me up at weekends, to shut up when Match of the Day was on, and to sit on my lap whenever he was asking for something. He never did learn not to walk on the kitchen counters, but he was sensible enough to jump off before I ever made it into the kitchen. The thumping sound as he landed on the floor when I got within a meter of the doorway always made me laugh.

He loved chicken madras, left-over Sunday roasts, would do anything for Dairylea, and nibbled on veg as long as it was covered in gravy. He killed everything that moved. Woke me up when he’d been rained on so I could dry him with a tea towel (bastard) and wouldn’t shut-up unless he got his 30 minutes of scritches, everyday, without fail.

In many ways he was perfect for me, half lazy, half bothered, sometimes a bit moody, but a soppy, furry bastard when he wanted to be.

He’s spent the last 4 years living at my Mum’s, with loads of land to roam and small mammals to kill. I’ve missed him terribly, but he’s been in the perfect place to relax and have fun, which I couldn’t really offer him from my apartment in Helsinki.

And now he’s gone.

I’m not sure I’ll have another connection with an animal like that. It was very much the right personality, at the right time, in the right place. And that’s fine. He was unique.

Sleep well, Jack, and thank you for deciding to live with me. You were the best cat.

Below Zero: 017

Trickle Down...

Interesting article here about Kansas’ experiment with tiny government, extreme devolution to the market, and “trickle down” economics. TL/DR; it didn’t work.

More Old School Hardcore

You should know by now that I’m a card-carrying, white glove wearing, whistle posse member from back in the day. I like a bit of hardcore now and again, so wrap your ears around this:

Below Zero: 016

UK Election

Its shouldn’t need saying, but just in case: Don’t vote Tory, for fuck’s sake. Don’t trust me, just have a look at how piss-poorly they’re running this election campaign. Hubris, over-confidence and stupidity are not traits to be celebrated, much less voted for.


Super excited for Jeff and Giles today as Polybius gets released - available in all good PSN stores (PC version in-bound) - and also more than a little chuffed to have played a small part in the soundtrack. Mine’s probably the worst track of the bunch, so don’t let it put you off, there’s some properly good stuff in there, and all for the price of a coffee and donut.

And the Continuous Mix is dead good like, cos I did it ;D


Two months after shouting that Retro Needs To Fucking Die, I’ve forgotten all about that and backed the ZX Spectrum Next over on Kickstarter. Exactly the thing I was fucking moaning about happened, someone laser targeted my old age and wallet and made a fucking computer that looks vaguely like something I used to own, and I’ve gone and fucking bought it.

My excuse to self: “I’m going to do some programming on it”, which is the 40yo equivalent of telling my Mum that it’s “for my homework”.

But imagine, what if I did do some programming on it, and I managed to do a bit of a Lumo Demake for it? That’d be pretty fucking cool, wouldn’t it? So I’ve put it down as a company expense…


OpenSuse Tumbleweed Given the changes around Ubuntu, and the fact that I’m not a fan of Gnome Shell in the slightest, I figured it was time to have a look around for a new daily driver on my laptop. I’ve been on a Debian derivative since Crunchbang, and for the most part I’ve been sticking to LTS versions of them. There’re pluses and minuses with LTS installs: They’re stable, but they’re normally a bit of a faff to upgrade, and I’m bored of the yearly “reinstall all my apps” dance that comes with it. That’s not a show stopper, but when you’re waiting months for updated drivers, or fixes to apps, it starts to drag. I figure it’s time to go rolling…

I could go to Arch and be done with it, but I really don’t like downtime, and I REALLY can’t be arsed fixing things, especially if that means I’m sat at my computer but not coding on my own games. A bit of tinkering here and there, when I’m in the mood? OK, but day-to-day maintenance? Nah, my shit has to work. I’m old.

I’ve been eyeing-up OpenSuse Tumbleweed for the better part of a year. They make big claims about the stability of their rolling release, and I’m increasingly hearing good things about the way they’re run. So for the last two weeks I’ve been running Tumbleweed on my laptop as my daily driver. With KDE Plasma…

I’ve not used KDE since the KDE3 days, but wow, it’s lovely. Fast, tidy, well integrated, stable, and good looking even at HiDPI. I’m seriously falling in love with this desktop and I’ve only used it for a couple of weeks. All the K-Apps I’ve tried seem polished, and although a few are a bit basic, it looks like they’re all under strong, active development.

Philosophically I have leanings toward Qt anyway. After looking at GTK3 and Qt - with an eye to writing the tools for Neutrino in them - I’ve got a strong preference for the way Qt is engineered. It’s easier to grok, the code looks cleaner, and most of the tools just seem nicer. I think that shows from the quality of some of the bigger apps that are written using the toolkit.

We’ll see. Bear in mind I also backed HD-DVD because it was cheap, and fuck Sony, so you know. :D

Tumbleweed’s done a couple of snapshot updates over the last week. I’ve had more than 300 package updates, and - touches wood - no breakages. I’m on the latest kernal, I have the latest Mesa (fuck yeah!) and everything seems good.

There’s one little problem, though… As far as some commercial vendors are concerned, there is only Ubuntu, which means you’re going to get a .deb, or fuck all. I’ve managed to get around this a couple of times (Overgrive, Texture Packer) by using alien to convert the .deb to a .rpm, but Spotify? Absolutely fucked if I can get that to install.

Fortunately the bigger commercial apps that I use (Modo, Substance Painter, etc.) seem to expect people to be running RedHat, so they’re .rpm by default, but I can see that there’re going to be more things that cause me an issue over time. The fact that this is a problem AT ALL in 2017 is fucking mind-blowing to me, so here’s hoping that Flat Pack, or Snap Packages, finally put this package management shit to bed, once and for all.

That being said, Yast is as great as people say it is, by far the best package manager that I’ve run. With the Packman repos added, the amount of software I have by default is amazing.

So yeah, tentative two thumbs up for OpenSuse Tumbleweed. I will report back if I get any breakages.

Ubuntu drops Unity

It’s all over the news today, but Ubuntu has dropped Unity.

I have mixed feelings about this. For a start, I really want my phone to be a drop-in, “converged” device that I can plug into a monitor and get about my business with. It has to be the end game, or at least, everything being a thin client, will be. I really want a competitor to Android; Linux done right, so to speak.

But I can’t help looking at this news and thinking what a complete and utter waste of time the Unity desktop and Mir have been. Unity desktop has never been better than KDE or Gnome, and Mir was only ever going to dilute the miniscule focus on Linux graphics driver support that we have.

So yeah, sensible choice for a multitude of reasons, but just think about where we could have been now :(