Staying at the Wangz

We’ve just booked a hotel for our trip to Singapore this May.

Thanks for everyone’s recommendations. We’ve decided to go with a new boutique hotel in the historic Tiong Bahru Estate (near Chinatown and the CBD). It’s called Wangz Hotel. (Nice!)

It’s a little more expensive than we were originally hoping for, but it looks absolutely gorgeous outside and in:

There’s a fairly in-depth review over at Sparklette. They also have a quick review of the hotel restaurant, Nectar.

I’m really looking forward to it! 😀

Grooveshark

Grooveshark is fantastic.

Basically, it’s a great web-based interface for searching for, organising, and playing music. Definitely try it out (and consider white-listing the site if you use Adblock plugins). For more information on the site’s history, check out the wikipedia article.

Since moving I’ve been transferring my old CD collection to my computer for easy playback. Now I’m wondering if I should even bother. Probably “yes”, since who knows when Grooveshark will pull a Last.fm or just get shut down… then again, there will probably be another service by then. So maybe “no”.

Freely available streaming music seems to be the future consumers want, and I reckon it’s going to happen (or rather, continue happening). If not on sites like Grooveshark, I can almost always find a song I want to listen to on YouTube or on the band’s myspace page.

So here’s to a future of less stuff (physical media), and more convenience, choice, and variety. Support your favourite bands by going to their gigs, buying their merch, and telling your friends. Do things rather than own things. Have fun.

Drawing random video chat people

I heard that various Internet people use random video chat sites in order to practice their drawing skills (amongst other things.)

Sounded like an alright idea. Let’s give it a go:

Went well enough; the guitar guy was cool. Let’s try some more:

And now (as is the way of almost all Internet memes) I’m bored of it.

I did enjoy the crazies while it lasted though: red ninja, lamb mask, the guy who wanted to do “that face”, guy with a sword, and even the person with cartoon faces drawn on pieces of paper. They really epitomise a characteristic part of the Internet. I’ve also come to appreciate that a lot of kids in the US have bad haircuts.

All-in-all, it was good practise in speed and simple layering. It’s hard to draw fast enough and you need to quickly capture shapes or colours. People need to start seeing something within a few seconds so that they don’t just disconnect and go onto the next person. Most of these were done in 15-45 seconds (using something a little less sophisticated than MS Paint).

Also fun: Asking people what they want you to draw and then drawing a portrait of them when they ask you to draw a dick. Priceless facial expressions ensue… usually followed by laughter and hand waving or fist pumping.

Creating SVG files with Python

It’s easy to create SVG files using Python. There’s no need for fancy rendering libraries. Just use a nice XML import/export library such as ElementTree.

This code:

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# my favourite XML library
from xml.etree import ElementTree as et
 
# create an SVG XML element (see the SVG specification for attribute details)
doc = et.Element('svg', width='480', height='360', version='1.1', xmlns='http://www.w3.org/2000/svg')
 
# add a circle (using the SubElement function)
et.SubElement(doc, 'circle', cx='240', cy='180', r='160', fill='rgb(255, 192, 192)')
 
# add text (using append function)
text = et.Element('text', x='240', y='180', fill='white', style='font-family:Sans;font-size:48px;text-anchor:middle;dominant-baseline:top')
text.text = 'pink circle'
doc.append(text)
 
# ElementTree 1.2 doesn't write the SVG file header errata, so do that manually
f = open('sample.svg', 'w')
f.write('<?xml version=\"1.0\" standalone=\"no\"?>\n')
f.write('<!DOCTYPE svg PUBLIC \"-//W3C//DTD SVG 1.1//EN\"\n')
f.write('\"http://www.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/1.1/DTD/svg11.dtd\">\n')
f.write(et.tostring(doc))
f.close()

Generates this image (.png file rendered from the output .svg):

Note: I’m using something like this to generate nice diagrams for the next Let’s Make Games report, and figured that it may be of use to others.

Update: Fixed typo in code (missing parentheses).

OMGLMG (Let’s Make Games report)

I’ve been working on another Let’s Make Games report on-and-off for a while now. Such that it looks like although the last report was March 2009. This report will now be April 2010. Ah, close enough is good enough I suppose. 😉

I had originally hoped to have the report ready for last year’s end-of-year party and then again around the start of this year. It’s always been a relatively low priority (and fairly difficult to get motivated about) since I don’t know who (if anyone) really cares about it… and it’s a lot of work.

Ultimately though, I care about it and, at the very least, I’m sure that others would be interested in the next survey results. So I’m in that frame of mind, and current delays are more to do with careful planning rather than lack of motivation.

The last report was fairly speculative. It was the first report on Perth’s game development community and my main goal was to identify the “personality” of the local scene. Turns out that we’re young indie developers at heart, who want to work in Perth, and often end up working jobs in related industry.

With this next report, I really want to capture the history and output of the local scene. I’m disappointed that there isn’t some central registry of games that have come out of Perth (although a few are listed on mobygames). There’s also no real record of where we have come from, and no directory of who we are now.

To an extent we’ve tried to address some of this by linking to local companies on the Let’s Make Games site, but a lot of that information will be updated and overridden. It’s nice to have a snapshot of the industry in the form of an annual report. Since this sort of record hasn’t really been made before, I’d like this report to include information up-to-and-including right now!

So if you are a local game developer (past and present) please be prepared to put in some time going through old notes, calendars, and resumes. I want to know all about it. 😀

Watch for a survey to appear on the Let’s Make Games site soon.

Incidentally, here is a diagram I put together back in November last year (click image for larger version):

I was trying to map out how developers have moved through companies and how companies had grown/divided/died. It’s pretty rough and incomplete, but you can see how the industry has grown in just the last few years.

Hopefully I’ll get rich enough data from the survey so that I can produce a better diagram for the report. 🙂

Exploding eggplant

A general warning that one should always be sure to pierce the skin of an eggplant that is to be roasted… otherwise, one may hear a muffled “pop” 15 minutes after putting it in the oven and later discover an exploded aubergine.

The skin may split longitudinally and a fair amount of its flesh may blow out:

And the mess left in the oven may required some cleaning:

You may also feel like a bit of a goose… because it’s pretty obvious really.

Note: I realise that I’ve been posting about food a lot recently. I’ll try to get back to posting about other things (eg. games and programming) as well; I’ve been doing some web and graphics programming recently.

Herring, pickled mustard green, and rice

I’m pretty happy with the herring we got the other day.

Lunch today consisted of rice soup with pickled mustard green and chilli, and two grilled herring fillets covered in salt and served on soy sauce.

So good and so easy to make, it also looks rather fancy when placed on a doily.

Just cut up the Thai pickled cabbage and boil in water, adding some cooked rice and then simmering for 5-10 minutes:

Salt the herring fillets on both sides and leave (covered) in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to allow the salt to sink in (and soak up moisture).

Make a few cuts into the skin (since it will shrink) and grill on a medium heat first on the flesh side and then on the skin side (until it is crispy).

Fresh herring

Heidi noticed this advertisement in the local newspaper:

Hmmm… I imagine that $2 a kilogram is a pretty good price. 🙂

We picked up two 1kg bags. Here’s what one looked like:

So we have a lot of fish (and Heidi’s vegetarian). I guess that I’ll have to freeze some. Do I have to do anything to them first?

For now I’m going to try out basic pan-fried (or grilled) fish (with salt or soy). Perfect with rice and soup for lunch or breakfast!