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Monday, June 22nd, 2015
10:21 pm
Given a triangular lattice which has had a number of nodes selected, is there a good algorithm for determining the minimum spanning tree which connects all the selected nodes? Or is this something which needs to be brute forced?

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Saturday, November 8th, 2014
7:29 am - Decluttering
Looking over my bookshelves, I've decided that although Orson Scott Card and Robert Asprin are fine authors, and although the ten or so German translated versions of their books that I own are undoubtedly also fine, I'm unlikely to read them at any point in the near future. I don't want to throw them away, and I suspect that passing them to the local charity shop is likely to result in that, as they're somewhat of a niche interest in the UK. So I thought I'd mention them here, in case anyone was interested in possessing them - if so, drop me a line.

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Monday, August 11th, 2014
7:52 am
The house is being attacked by baby birds. On Saturday, there was one sitting on the driveway looking small (which we left for its mother or for cats to find), and this morning one has hidden itself in our cooker's extractor fan (which we'll probably also leave as the alternative of dismantling half the kitchen doesn't appeal). Silly birds.

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Sunday, July 13th, 2014
3:32 pm
Carrie and I have designated the smallest bedroom in the house as the space room, with a view to painting the walls purple with lots of colourful planets, stars, comets and space detritus. Over the course of the recent holidays, this plan has progressed, resulting in a massive sun filling the ceiling, surrounded by purple walls just waiting to be filled.

It looks awesome, and part of me wants to bounce about excitedly painting celestial bodies. Unfortunately, getting this far has robbed me of all available energy. So I may well have a nap instead.

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Sunday, July 6th, 2014
9:59 pm - Musings on the Hugo nominations
Neptune's Brood - I would preferred to have had a more proactive protagonist and am not quite convinced by the economics of slow currency, but nonetheless found this novel of forensic accounting fascinating.
The Wheel of Time - I have many fond memories of reading through the original volumes even if lack of time means I have not read the series completely.
Ancillary Justice - An interesting society well described largely makes up for a protagonist whose goals self-confessedly make no sense.
No Award
Parasite - The Feed trilogy were compelling reads, but failed to have meaningful climaxes or to properly explore the questions they had raised. The initial reviews of Parasite make me suspect the same is true here; I have therefore not bought myself a copy.
Warbound - I failed to get into part one of the series, and likewise failed to get into part three.

Equoid - Engaging exploration of a Lovecraftian beastie. Unlike the other nominees, I have interest in rereading this novella, so it takes top place.
The Butcher of Khardov - Surprisingly well crafted tie-in fiction.
No Award
The Chaplain's Legacy - A predictable plot and pedestrian writing mar some interesting world building.
Six-Gun Snow White - I'm sure that there's something that the author wanted to say with this novel, but I didn't understand what it was.
Wakulla Springs - This was a beautifully written but the fact that the fantasy elements could be excised without anyone noticing means that I do not think it is suitable to win a Hugo.

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Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
1:39 pm - Bees mean Hives
Our house has a hole in the wall where a outflow pipe used to live. While sealed off on the inside, the outside was left open to give a nice little passageway into the cavity. And the steady stream of bumblebees entering and leaving said cavity leaves me in no doubt that they've taken advantage of this to build a hive.

I'm not quite sure what to think about this. On the one hand, bees are awesome, and having planted a variety of bee attracting plants, it feels a bit churlish to complain that some have turned up to take us up on the offer. And unlike some kamikaze wasps I could name, these bees seem to be quite happy to bimble about, minding their own business.

On the other hand, part of me worries that they'll slowly spread throughout the entire cavity and turn the house into a massive hive. Or, more plausibly, cause problems by bringing stuff into the cavity which the cavity was not supposed to hold, causing untold cost to repair and replace.

So what should we do?

Nuke the bees from orbit - it's the only way to be sure.
Try and persuade the bees that houses are for people and not for insects, fuzzy and awesome though they may be.
Commend the bees on their industrious production of hexagonal cell insulation, and leave them to get on with it.
Stick a webcam into the hive to observe what is going on, and evaluate the feasibility of installing a honey-tap.
Bow down to our new buzzing overlords.

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Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
6:47 pm
The record of contact details on my phone confuses me.

Things were simple when I was young.  You had a piece of paper, and when you had a phone number you wanted to keep, you added it.  Every now and again, you got fed up of the lack of structure on your piece of paper, and wrote it out again.  With the advent of computers, things became even simpler, because the 'writing it out again' step could be skipped.

Now matters have become more complex again.  My phone has decided the time of passivity is past and is actively going out and collecting information on my behalf.  I've got phone numbers of barely remembered school friends, birthdays of children where I didn't know the parents had got together and addresses which people will have moved on from before I would expect to see people again.

I'm not sure that I dislike it, perce.  It does mean that I'm likely to get the information that I need, and saves me the effort of having to curate my own list.  But I do miss the control - the certainty of knowing that the information I want has carefully been written down somewhere.  That my records have permanence, and won't randomly be deleted when my phone decides that something it found online is better.

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Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
10:41 pm - Whispers of my muse
Roman emperors, so it is said, had slaves whose job it was to ride behind them in parades, whispering 'you too are mortal'. After lots of recent good news on the games front, I've had an playtest experience along those lines. 'The King Is Dead' had been substantially reworked, and I'd been looking forward all day to wowing people with its significant improvements. Instead, every single one of my alterations proved to make the game variously flatter, more complicated, less likely to terminate and with less skill. Can we say 'oops'?

It's kind of nice to have such experiences from time to time. It highlights just how well the playtests normally end up going, and has given me useful data about how 'The King Is Dead' should be developed next, even if said data is 'anything but the current form'. As a result, I left Swiggers happy, and even the realisation that I'd left my laptop at work and had to go back to the office on the way home to receive it has failed to dent my spirits.

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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
2:16 pm
Think about the things that are important to you. Perhaps you care about creativity, family relationships, your career, or having a sense of humour. Pick two or three of these values and write a few sentences about why they are important to you. You have fifteen minutes.

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Sunday, March 10th, 2013
10:29 am
Apropos of comments about gender balance in panels, I've just realised how male dominated board games design is. I've playtested a lot of different designer's games, and can think of only two times that I've playtested a game designed by a woman. There are more out there, it's true, but proportionally there don't seem to be many. I wonder why that is.

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Sunday, January 20th, 2013
8:38 am - My job, in the ten hundred most used words
When people become old and can't do their job any more, they still need money. Sometimes the job they have done will help them by giving them money when they are old.

But how does the job know how much money they need to save, to pay the old people? That's where I come in - I work out how much they need, and help them deal with any problems they have in doing this.

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Thursday, November 29th, 2012
4:28 pm - Cheering news
We Will Wok You is available from the UK version of Amazon. Admittedly in limited numbers, but nonetheless available. (http://www.amazon.co.uk/will-Wok-you-German-Version/dp/B006WY1OKS)

In other news, Gigamic are apparently going to publish a French-language only edition of We Will Wok You. And publish a version of Keyflower with French rules. (According to a press release they put out. I haven't heard any of this officially, though, so I may be getting the wrong end of the stick somehow.)

Awesome :-)

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Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
5:55 am
Dear Police and Crime Commissioner candidate,

Searching on the internet, it seems that the main way in which you're attempting to convince me that you're the best person for the job, to persuade you to give me your vote, is through your statement on http://www.choosemypcc.org.uk/.

I would therefore expect you to seize the opportunity to convince me - to talk about your history, who you are as a person, what you will bring to the job. To craft a statement sketches your aspirations for change, and convinces me of your competence to carry this through. Instead I've found that you couldn't be bothered to do that, and got someone else to ghost write it for you.

Currently, I'm more inclined to vote for the ghost writers than you. They, at least, have shown they can create something vaguely persuasive. You have not.

Best wishes for the future (except for this ballot where I hope you do badly),


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Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
7:26 am
I'm back from a magnificent time at the games fair in Essen. I had two games released there - Keyflower from R&D Games and We Will Wok You from Pegasus - and both were well received. (Keyflower especially so - in the Fairplay list, showing rankings of new games based on people's votes, Keyflower spent much of the show jostling for first place.) The game Snowdonia, released by my friends in Surprised Stare Games, also seems to have gone down very well.

On the unpublished side, things were also good, with a number of useful meetings with publishers, a number of prototypes given to interested parties and a number of further games ideas had (although when I'll have time to implement them is as yet unclear).

Great though Essen was, I must admit to relief that it's all over. The last few months have not been easy - eeking out moments to revise rules, prepare prototypes and plan meetings - usually when should have been asleep. And Essen itself, although great fun, relied principally by a mixture of nerves and adrenaline to keep me upright. It's been magnificent. But I'm also looking forwards to the routine of normal life.

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Saturday, August 4th, 2012
1:37 pm
I'm now back from the Olympic Stadium, having watched my sister (Julia Bleasdale) come 8th in the 10,000m with a time of 30:55.63. In doing so, she knocked 34 seconds off her personal best and is now sitting third in the UK time list for the women's 10,000m (position 2 being taken by Jo Pavey in the same race, and position 1 being comfortably held by Paula Radcliffe).

It was an increadible experience watching her and I'm immensely proud.

I'm also feeling inexplicably shattered, given how little I did beyond feeling nervous and shouting at her to keep going. I think I might head back to bed.

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Friday, August 3rd, 2012
8:00 am
Today I'm going to go to the Olympic stadium and watch my sister run in the 10,000m finals. The race is at 9:25pm and I'm already nervous.


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Thursday, January 5th, 2012
8:02 am
When I am ruler of the universe, I'm going to abolish old age and replace it with cake.

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Sunday, November 20th, 2011
6:26 pm - On The Cards
As you may know, I've had another game published. It's called On The Cards (Boardgamegeek link), and consists of a standard deck of 52 cards, and 52 rules cards with rules for traditional card games split across five different types (Deal, Aim, Card Play, Trick Taking and Optional Twist). The rules cards have been constructed so that any four cards of the basic rules types will give you a different card game.

The main game has you setting out a random game and playing a round. When that is complete, the players who have won most (or lost fewest) points take one of the rules cards to show their victory, giving a new game for the next round. Play continues until someone has won four rules cards.

If you've read this description, and a cross between Fluxx and Bridge doesn't appeal, that's fair enough. On The Cards tends to polarise people into those who love it and those who can't see the point, and you're likely to be in the latter camp.

If, on the other hand, you're thinking 'that sounds fascinating', you can get a copy from the publishers at Surprised Stare Games, or directly from me if you know you're going to see me and want to save the postage. Or if you want to ask questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Saturday, November 12th, 2011
7:45 am
As a fast reader, I rarely give up on books - it's usually simpler to plough my way through to the end. However, I'm making an exception for 'Great Expectations', because it's depiction of Pip's attempts to achieve his life goal of being a useless parasite are so banal that it was sapping my will to live. It didn't help that Pip's primary means of teaching his ambitions was to mope about aimlessly, failing to engage with crudely drawn caricatures that comprised the other characters.

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Thursday, July 7th, 2011
12:00 pm
I think that I haven't seen people enough recently, need a kick in the backside to get me to do something about it. Ergo, a poll:

Poll #1759601 We should meet up

How should we meet up?

I should visit you
You should visit me
We both should meet up somewhere else

When should we meet?

Next year some time...

If I don't knot where you live, or you think we should meet somewhere else, where's that?

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