What we have here, is a failure to communicate!

February 15th, 2009

It's not easy being a Scotsman in England. Some of the locals have difficulty understanding my accent. I'm living in Oxford now, but it was the same in London. Recently, I had trouble ordering a coffee...

Me: Hi. I would like a tall white Americano to take away please.

Coffee guy: (shouts) Tall black Americano to go.

Me: Sorry, white.

Coffee guy: (shouts) Two Americanos to go.

Me: No, no. A white Americano.

Coffee guy: Both white, or just one?



Ubuntu, you've done it again

January 14th, 2009

I may have spoken too soon regarding no having internet access. I just plugged in my Sony Ericsson phone via USB, switch it to 'phone mode' and Ubuntu instantly recognised the phone as a modem.

I did have mobile internet working on an older release of Ubuntu, but not without scouring the internet and typing magic incantations in to the command line. I love it when computers 'just work'!

I'm tempted to try it again in Vista to compare, but I really should get back to the packing.


I've moved to Oxford

January 14th, 2009

As of tomorrow (Thursday 15 Jan) I'll be living in Oxford. Let me know if you need my new address. My landline number will change, but you can still get me on my mobile.

I wont have Internet access at home for a while, so I apologise if I can't answer emails until then.

Now back to the packing!


Career ponderings

March 14th, 2008

I have a new job. I wasn't even looking a new position, I was actually quite settled doing contract work for chessclub.com (working on a wxPython client for their Internet chess service). My new job is working for a startup, based in London, that is creating a big site with Django. I'm not sure if I can tell you much about the site itself yet, but I do think they have found a niche on the internet that isn't fully catered for.

Starting a new job has made me consider, what I laughingly call, my career. I started out in games, writing really low level code in assembler and eventually moved in to 3D graphics. Working in games can be a lot of fun, but I found that I was solving the same kind of problems over and over again. Partially because even cutting edge games must perform the same kind of tasks as ancient (> 10 years old) games, and partially because C++ doesn't deliver what it promises in terms of re-use of code. I also found I disliked working on massive projects because its hard to feel any sense of ownership in the project when you know you are a small cog in a big machine. Fortunately I manged to change the direction of my career by getting in to Python.

What I've realised recently is that my hobby projects drive my career. I got my first job in games by writing a 3D graphics demo,  subsequent games jobs were off the back of an AI life demo I wrote, and I'm sure that one of the reasons I got a job with chessclub.com was that I had already written a chess game in my spare time. Even this new job was probably helped by my most recent hobby project. So I would encourage anyone to take up some hobby projects or work on open source. I would also encourage programmers to go in to some niche technology area, rather than whatever technology is the most commercial at the time. Sooner or later any skill will become mainstream and the job market will be saturated. Better to have less common skills so that you will always be in demand. Seems to have worked for me so far.

That my self-indulgent post for this year. Back to the usual geeky stuff next post.



February 20th, 2008

I'm going to Miami for a few days, so mail will go unanswered until I get back on Tuesday. :-)


I'll be back

November 15th, 2007

I'm going away for a week on holiday. I will be back on the 24th. All mail, death-threats, wealthy Nigerian widows and Viagra special offers will go unanswered until then.


Drum roll, please

April 16th, 2007

With no regard to my personal safety, and no safety net, I perform the amazing grape trick. Do not try this at home.


3,462 miles by back stroke

April 16th, 2007
bigswimMy sister sent me this (hi Jen), it is a lesson in not taking computers literally. According to Google, if you want to go from New York to Edinburgh you must swim across the Atlantic ocean. Nice going egg-heads!

Motorstorm released

January 15th, 2007

I spent most of 2006 working on Motorstorm, one of the first ever PS3 games. Work gave me a free copy of the recently released Japanese version. If only I had a PS3 to play it on!

Congratulations to my colleagues at Evolution Studios for all their hard work.


Ctrl+Z Ctrl+Z!

August 19th, 2006

In my new job I just don't get the exercise I used to. Sure I can do a little resistance training at home so I don't look too out of shape, but you have to do a little cardio if you want to stay young and pretty for as long as possible. So I decided to resurrect a hobby of mine from my youth and bought a bicycle from a local shop in Chester. It really is true what they say; you never forget how to ride a bike - although my legs did seem to have forgotten they were strong. So I have spent the last 2 weekends cycling about Chester in glorious weather, and enjoyed it immensely.

Even though it had been raining most of the day I set out to find a route down to the river Dee, which is a stones throw away from my flat. On the way there I am free-wheeling down a fairly steep hill and even though it had started to rain I'm feeling pretty good. Nearing the bottom of the hill it occurs to me that I'm travelling a little too fast, so - naturally - I apply the brakes. At the same time I notice that I'm drifting towards the kerb and I compensate by turning the handle bars in the opposite direction, but I must have over compensated because now Im heading in to the road, so again I try to compensate. This little wobble, combined with braking on a slippy wet road at speed led to a situation where the bike slowed down but I didn't. So I find myself leaving the bike and completely at the mercy of the laws of physics. Fortunately my cat like reflexes saved me and I managed to hit the pavement (sidewalk if you are American) and roll to safety. Only my right hand sustained an injury. I don't think anyone saw the fall, it was a quiet road, but a local did stop his car to say "y'aright?" - they say that a lot in Chester. I suppressed my natural instinct for inappropriate sarcasm and replied in the affirmative.

The WoundMy camera was in a pouch on my belt secured by a stud, but it had managed to come loose during the fall and bounce on the road a few times. Fortunately, unlike my hand is was unscathed. And was still able to record the horrible horrible injuries I received. If you are the squeamish type then frankly it is too late, you have seen the thumbnail and are probably thoroughly revolted by now. Otherwise click the thumbnail or visit the set on my flickr page to seen the pictures I took. Now you will have to excuse me, I'm going to walk down to the video shop to get a tub of ice-cream and a movie.
© 2008 Will McGugan.

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