September 22, 2023

This is normal

A tired run of Polybius is better than a great run of most games.

Six years later, I say VR is still waiting for another pure game experience equally worthy of the medium.

Sitting down to play after a long break, I am additionally impressed by how well designed it is. How clear everything is, despite incessant explosions of colour and sound. How much thought and experience must have gone into making it so. And how rewarding that makes building experience. I am not sure what I am doing different, but I clearly get into the zone quicker and deeper than ever before, despite clearly being rusty and almost failing multiple times in the first few levels.

It is probably unfair of me to be surprised. Take it as a sign of how little I trust the average game to have put thought into the things it presents.

Leave your baggage behind.

September 20, 2023

Ollie soars

It is fun to get caught up in a perfect mobile game every once in a while.

Ollie soars is part of Ollie's arcade, a collection of games created by the Iconfactory. Ollie soars is free - without any silly asterisks - and the other two games are very nicely priced as well.

Honestly: I have not got to the other two games because Ollie soars is just such a perfect quick-play experience.

Ollie flies from left to right.

Tap the right side of the screen to make him soar.

Tap the left side to dive.

Avoid obstacles, collect gems.

That is it.

Hit something, and the game is over. But starting over takes one tap and zero waiting, because this is a game which is not trying to squeeze money out of you. Just you, playing the game, enjoying the side-scrolling pixel graphics, for as long as you feel like.

I usually do not enjoy touch controls for arcade-ish games. They tend to feel to imprecise for my taste. Ollie soars somehow gets them just right, not even once have I wished I had physical buttons to press, or felt that I crashed because a touch did not register the way I expected it to.

The problem

My one problem is that I have become pretty good at the game. After one shocking episode of flight flow, I now need to spend more than ten minutes to even begin to approach my highest scores. That in turn puts a bit of a damper on the pick-up-and-play-in-little-breaks mentality. Do I have fifteen minutes to focus right now? What if something else needs my attention?

It would ruin a bit of the beautiful simplicity - probably more than would be worth it - but I almost wish there was a pause button just to remove that nagging thought.

September 14, 2023

Inspirer of the year

Yesterday saw the first hopefully annual Developers day event in Stockholm. A dinner, party, and awards event for developers to celebrate and generally have a good time. You know, the kind of thing one might imagine people getting up to in the distant past. I was invited, and a nominee for the inspirer of the year award for my work with Kodsnack. That together with the opportunity to meet a lot of aquaintances, some of who I have only ever seen on-screen, was enough to push me out of my usual routine, mark dates on the calendar, book trains and accomodation, and last but not least pack.

I have taken similar trips post-pandemic, but somehow it still felt like more of a throwback than usual. Early autumn air, Stockholm, people I know through podcasting … it felt like a break from the regular timeline and a jump to 2016 or so. And all in a good way, I should add!

Bury the lede much?

So anyway, I won the award!

On stage at Developers day, accepting the award On stage at Developers day, accepting the award

It felt fantastic. I am no stranger to impostor syndrome and similar feelings, but I had no issues whatsoever with that. I felt that yes, I have really done the stuff they gave me this award for. I am pretty darn good at keeping on making this podcast, and it is great to hear (again) that other people appreciate it too.

I also rediscovered how nice of a community Swedish developers are. Being something of an awards ceremony in Stockholm, I would not have been surprised to see at leasst some amount of nervous posturing or the like. But no, everyone seemed to be in the same mood as I was; happy to hang out and talk, cheering for all award winners, and being surprised and giddy if they personally won. In fairness, I should not have been that surprised, knowing multiple people involved and just how down to earth they are. It makes sense that they would involve equally nice people.

I actually got to bed pretty decently for a party night, but my brain just kept on spinning various thought threads, and in the end I had the least number of hours of sleep in a night since I do not know when.

Totally worth it.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this such a great evening!

Framed award diploma, plus flowers Framed award diploma, plus flowers

Now, let us continue to build good things. More podcasting. More connections with people.

More sunny walks with cool and clear autumn air.

My head is still spinning with thoughts in all kinds of directions, but I remain confident that falling asleep will not be a problem tonight.

(I may have a cold coming in. Unrelated, but appropriate.)

September 10, 2023

Visual video

I have kept using and enjoying Ferromagnetic for visualizing audio. Music is of course always nice, with the visualizer either in the foreground or behind all other windows.

However, I have recently given it a serious try while doing other things as well. The fact that it actually can listen to not only music, but all system audio, is great. For me, the visuals seem to make a fantastic focusing tool when it comes to meetings. It is so easy to drift for a few seconds, and suddenly find yourself reading something off in some other window, having completely lost track of what was being said. Images pulsing and evolving with the actual words being said provide a wonderful magnet, attracting that kind of drift and capturing it in its world of colour. Best of all, since there are no words present, and everything sort of connects to the words being spoken, the language part of the brain can stay focused on what people are actually saying.

And of course, it looks just fantastic as well. It feels like having meetings in cyberspace of a Rez variety.

I have also started running it while recording podcasts, and while I do not need the focus help in quite the same way there, it still makes the conversation more immersive, letting it fill more of the screen and mind.

Surely, user interfaces in general could stand to become a bit more colourful and animated? Could we get a bit more of Macos Minter next year, please?

August 24, 2023


This is Gherkin.

Gherkin - ortholinear 30 key keyboard Gherkin - ortholinear 30 key keyboard

A rather … small keyboard. Just 30 keys, in pleasingly straight lines.

Even my Piantor looks kind of large next to it.

Gherkin next to Piantor - a split 42 key keyboard Gherkin next to Piantor - a split 42 key keyboard

Not to mention this beast …

Gherkin and Piantor next to gigantic Apple extended keyboard II Gherkin and Piantor next to gigantic Apple extended keyboard II

For Swedish speakers, I discussed this keyboard a bit in this week's Kodsnack episode. I was, and am, not really in the market for another keyboard. Especially not one requiring work to figure out another new layout. But how could I not act when a listener was looking for a new home for a largely unused keyboard, and asked very little money for it? And I managed to get used to a 40% keyboard much quicker than I had ever expected, so surely I would at least get something interesting out of 30% as well?

And yes, I could. I am very slow, and I make a lot of mistakes, but I can get regular typing done and know where things are. This after spending at most a couple of hours in total typing, and probably even more time just thinking about the layout and where things might go. If I keep at it, I can at least see myself becoming usefully fast and accurate for typing regular text like this. Programming might take a bit longer, and I am not sure I will focus on that in any case. I do not foresee this becoming a daily driver. But hey, stranger things have happened …

Adapting to the smaller number of keys is interesting. Despite my layout being - as of now - as similar as I can make it to my other keyboards, I frequently drift and misplace my fingers. I think the issue is that the various edges of the keyboard no longer represent the same keys. I get much better accuracy if I think sort of from the home keys - F and J - and outward. The edges come earlier, but all the offsets are where they have always been, if that makes sense.

The main challenge for my mind was the fact that there are ten columns of keys rather than the twelve I am used to. That leaves very few keys free after A to Z have been laid out in the usual fashion, and even they do get their positions altered a bit. You see, the middle two keys on the bottom row serve as space and backspace, so they get Z, X, C, and V to their left and B, N, and M to their right. The BNM group does trip me up regularly, but I think the general layout is worth it.

Symbols, arrow keys, and numbers have generally been packed in about the same way as my larger layouts. I probably should make some larger changes on those layers, because I really had to pack things in, and many keys got shuffled around a bit without any real plan. A few intelligently chosen new layers could make a huge difference. Current clear sufferers from layout problems are the - key and tab. I want a convenient tab not only for auto completions and the like, but also for app switching. And for app switching, I need to combine it with the command key and frequently also the shift key. I have created what is essentialy a dedicated tab layer, but I am sure there is more and better I can do here.

I will also, of course, put the layout on Github once it has landed just a bit more.

(I at least want to be writing posts like this on the Gherkin without any major issues before I consider things settled down.)