October 04, 2005

Monday October 3rd 2005

Monday 3rd October
I had some cool dreams again for the first time in ages!

  • The first one was about being a research assistant in a project that was reanimating a cryogenically frozen head. I was getting very concerned about the comfort of the head as it couldn't speak and raised it as a cruelty issue. So they gave it spider-legs (!) and an artificial voicebox.
  • The second one was about slipping through portals into multiple different worlds. I don't remember much about them, except one of them was zero gravity and looked like a Super Mario 64 level except it had a Barclay's Bank in the corner.
  • Another one was about going to America and meeting some of my friends at an Irish pub that had migrated there for the winter. (Seriously. The pub had wings. Funny how in dreamscapes anything makes sense.)

I got woken up in the midst of the third dream by mum phoning up. I basically grunted. She said that I'd 'agreed' to be rung up at that time. I think the likelihood of me agreeing to be rung up at 8:30 on a Monday morning is very unlikely... I told her I'd ring back at 11 and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 10:30 feeling very refreshed. I went to the kitchen and found it pretty clean but with a huge pile on the table of pots and pans and stuff. Apparently the cleaner had got very stroppy on seeing it and had told Will that she wished she could still throw out stuff that'd been left out. (What a cow! It's in the contract that one dirty kitchen is allowed once in a while, probably after special events, and Will is one of the politest guys you could ever meet. I'd understand her mean-streak if she'd cleaned what she had available but there was a ring-stain on the counter anyway.)

I headed back to my room and phoned mum. She called me back on the payphone and we chatted. It was nice to talk, as I really do miss mum and dad. I need to find some people here who are as great at affectionately random conversation as they are. I headed back to my room and played more Max Payne 2 (I'm addicted). It's so good I almost feel guilty about the fact that someone pirated it for me. But as it's not available natively for Linux, my guilt was short-lived.

I skedaddled off to the Computer Science building via the Arts Centre to pick myself a very nice 'Chilli con Sarni' vegetarian sandwich. It used up all of the coins I was saving to do my washing, but I ignored the potential crisis at the time. I dipped into the Comp. Sci. lab to leech off their working Internet (Student Computing: BOO! HISS!) and posted the previous day's blog entry, before I headed to another Programming Lecture.

It was very simple but great fun. Dr Jarvis is extremely talented and can make even noddy stuff that I learned 8 years ago seem very interesting. We had a discussion afterwards and he said I didn't have to do the noddy seminar problems and could just focus on my coursework, as long as I discussed it with my seminar tutor. That'll be a really big help as I was getting worried that being bogged down with the simple questions would make it harder to find elegant solutions for the trickier problems in the coursework. I headed back to the computer science room to find a game for Ben (Another World for the SNES) and to find out when Warwick Pride did registration.

I headed off and registered for the Pride. They were very friendly, at least up until I said I wasn't really interested in clubbing and they said that there were sessions I could go to but it was very dominantly clubbing, though they tried to explain to me that clubbing isn't just gay men dancing. I joined anyway and thanked them and went to the main societies hall.

They weren't joking when they said that Warwick had a society for everything! By the time I'd left I'd gained leaflets for the Computing Society, the Bridge Society, the Computer Game Development Society, the Debating Society, and had an argument with one of the founders of the Vegetarian and Animal Rights society. I wonder what I'll actually join?

I headed back, via a vending machine to get a kit-kat, to get ready for two lectures in a row in the same room (though after a 23 hour flight to Australia, I'm the master of sitting in a seat). I played with Mario 64 in the lecture room whilst waiting for the lectures to start.

Professional Skills was useless. It's a beginner's guide to UNIX and shell programming, which I had to learn when I was around 13. At least the seminars are voluntary. Following immediately was Maths. for Computer Scientists which was presented by a scatty brained lecturer who was nice but the lecture material was so samey I fell asleep (sorry if he's reading!). I'll have to read the notes to catch up on that, I think.

I got back to the common room after showing a fellow Computer Scientists the absolute beautiful simplicity of Apple's iWork and chatted to them for a bit before getting back. I blast-heated my chilli in the microwave and it was completely dry and gloopy. I added some tap water and it suddenly became beautiful, like the chillis from home. A few people were there blowing up balloons for a birthday party later, and there was talk about having a kitchen meeting about the horrible state of the kitchen in the morning. There was also a TV plugged into the wall, but despite the fact it was plugged into an external areal it was getting a horribly faint picture. I went back to the Union Building to check out the Computer Game Development Society meeting that I'd been invited to…

The Game Development Society was OK but nothing spectacular. It was male-dominated and very based around short-term goals. It was also exceedingly Windows-biased to the point I couldn't really try much of the previous made projects. However, I did drum up some interest in making a graphical adventure game. The main thing with that is we'd need art, and lots of it. It may be an idea for the future, though!

I headed back to the halls to see the birthday party. It was pretty dead, so I headed around to Ben's to give him an old SNES game he wanted. He was pleased, and I went back to the party. It was even deader, but there was some cake left over that I scoffed. I went back to my room and played Max Payne 2 to completion (boring ending), before checking out the welcome pack that the Warwick Pride had given me:

  • Condom/lube combination pack (Why does every introduction pack contains these. I'm collecting them.)
  • Standard condom.
  • Flier for Warwick Anti-Sexism Society
  • Welcome buffet invitation
  • THT how to use a condom guide
  • Guide to gay support services in Coventry
  • HIV & AIDS leaflet
  • Shock-tactic Amnesty International Colombian anti-homophobia campaign flier
  • Gay men's sexual health anonymous survey
  • Coventry and Warwickshire 'friend' helpline service for gay men and lesbians
  • Flier for GYGL (godiva young gay & lesbians) suport group
  • Leaflet containing advice for what to do if you're suspecting you're a young gay man
  • Form for sending money to aforementioned Amnesty International campaign
  • Guide to the society. Nice and informal, but a bit too informal in places. For example, telling someone to notify the Police 'or Led Zeppelin' is funny but placing it in the 'what to do if attacked when cruising' section may be insensitive to those who are reserved about telling the police things
  • THT sexual health clinic flier

It was a very comprehensive pack! A bit biased towards sexual activities and support; but generally I guess that's what young gay people need. After leafing through it I put it aside and prepared for bed. In the process I'd noticed the people in the kitchen had been watching movies. I wish they'd tell me when they were going to do that, I'd love to join in!

Oh, and for reference, here's a completely mad poster I found on the Arthur Vick door [largely paraphrased]:

STUDENT COMPUTING

As you are aware there are issues with the Resnet. (You don't say.)

We have identified the issue as being caused by viruses and peer-to-peer filesharing activity. (You knew that 6 days ago.)

Please:

* Install anti-virus, which you can get free from Student Computing.

* Update the anti-virus. (Only if you provide discs, the network's down, remember?!)

* Update your operating system. (HELLO! Network access is DOOOOWN! Chicken and egg problem!)

* Cease all P2P activity as it is breach of the AUP. (All internet connectivity is P2P. I'm assuming they mean filesharing.)

Sigh. Is it me or does that poster remind you of a fish thashing around stuck out of water?


- 6 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. In relation to the Game Design Society:
    You should be able to play around with the code for the Rootes challenge java based webgame on a mac or in linux as seen here:
    link

    easily, since that was mostly coded in linux.

    The other projects were largely coded in windows but I think macs and linux can handle coding in C++ without too many problems. I guess if there isn't a mac port of Half-life 2 yet we can't really be blamed in the society.

    Was there a specific problem with the freshers CD being unreadable on a Mac?

    I guess when the majority of computer users use windows things are always going to be slightly more that way inclined but I think the society has managed to stay largely code portable.

    We've also made every effort to recruit members from all genders, but it is a general fact of the industry that it is harder in our current times to get women interested in games and games design. Not that we haven't been trying. Last year, for instance, we managed to persuaded the female equal opportunities officer to join up.

    I'm not sure what is meant by the society being short term focused, it could be in reference to the projects attempted, I guess, and this largely comes through experience. Knowing that students are often incredibly busy people with hundreds of things to do and games are extraordinairly complex entities, its generally been agreed that projects with a smaller scope are more likely to be finished. Last year for instance a complex RPG was mooted as a design and while some very cool progress was made, it was a long way from anything that was fun to play. The mantra has been to make things that are well designed and can be feasibly finished. This doesn't mean that there is no room for people to try a more complex plan with the right team and the right planning. Make your case and people will listen.

    Lastly the society is compared to many other societies, very new and fresh faced. It was formed in around January of this year. As such it is a very exciting time to be part of the society as there is more opportunity to shape its direction, the trade off being that things are slightly less slick than societies that are into their thirtieth (or more) year of operation.

    Keep coming along to meetings and putting across your point of view, a society is made by the people who are a part of it. I look foward to seeing more of you.

    04 Oct 2005, 13:00

  2. Mathew Mannion

    Just to reiterate what Dan said, I'm sorry if you felt like there were issues in the way that the Video Game Design Society has set out its' goals – we do try and cater for all people, but we of course struggle with the fact that there is a problem with the male-dominated nature of the industry. I think there are also problems with the fact that females are reluctant to join a society that is so male dominated, and this means that we struggle to recruit such people. However, from the notes I have, the Society has around a 30/70% gender split from the people who signed up from the Societies Fair or displayed an interest – although obviously this wasn't shown at the meeting last night.

    If there are problems with the CD being unreadable on a Mac or in Linux, please let me know, I'm sorry if this was the case – there wasn't time to test it out on a Mac unfortunately, and I do apologise for the lack of software for other platforms other than Windows.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts with regards to the ambitiousness of the society and with the short-term goals that we have; we're looking to start a number of projects this year that could go on indefinitely through the years, but as this is our first full year as a society we're still on the steep learning curve. As Dan said, the complex nature of the RPG as our first actual project meant that very little successful progress was made considering the amount of time that was put into it – certainly I have made it one of my goals as part of my Presidency of the Society to get one completed project within the next year.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts – either at president@warwickgamedesign.co.uk or by whatever other means (you can chat to me at mat@matmannion.com on MSN)

    Mat

    04 Oct 2005, 13:33

  3. Mike 'Ferret' Thompson

    Pfui. SCS is just being a buncha lazy nerks. They can fix it, they just don't want to go to the trouble, so they are wingeing to the residents.

    You seem to be getting along all right with socializing, I'm glad to hear that. I was worried that your cynical public persona would get in the way! ;*)>

    I'll send you a pic of Fudge (the new ferret!) as soon as I can get him to pose in a sufficiently cute manner.

    04 Oct 2005, 14:43

  4. Mum

    In self defense I would like to say that you were not phoned at eight thirty but at 9.35 which is the time we spoke before, just as you did not spend 10 minutes trying to find a tv aerial on the first day, but 50 minutes by your own clock. This inaccurate Motherphobia is the only scar on an otherwise wonderful website. Sorry I sounded so Mumsy yesterday I suppose exams are not happening on the first Sunday of term didn't mean to sound like a victorian headmistress!
    From the comments from the games society they sound like a genuine bunch who are doing their best. Don't be too critical and give people a chance. As for the Pride, most young people, hetero and gay, love dancing and meeting at parties and clubs. It doesn't have to be a sex-crazed pick-up joint. I know your heart condition has put you off dancing in the past, but you could go and have a drink, meet people, and dance a few slow ones, or even a moderate dance now. Stop being stuffy and prejudiced about it all and give these things a chance. It doesn't mean you're 'on the scene', but you do need to meet some people with the same sexuality as you sometimes. There are quiet, sensitive, and shy people of all sexualities you know.
    It was great to talk to you too darling, and we do miss you too, but we are so pleased that you are finding your way, flapping your young, strong. wings.
    Lots of love.
    ps. medic alert badge and mouse badge not here, sorry.

    04 Oct 2005, 15:01

  5. Kieran Shaw

    Testing non-logged-in comments

    04 Oct 2005, 15:33

  6. Dementia

    With regards to clubbing with Warwick pride, if you ignore the occasional trip to a big club somewhere (E.g. Birmingham) the regular clubbing is on at the local club in Coventry. A lot of people don't go there to dance or pick someone up for a shag. It is quiet enough downstairs to chat to people so you get some serious (and a whole load a lot-less-than-serious) conversations.

    05 Oct 2005, 01:19


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