I am a Blogger

These are the posts about writing, the software used for writing, the type of blog and the design of the webpage it produces. Probably more the latter three than the first one if I'm honest, though.

Some Thoughts on Gamification

If you're playing any sort of a game, the question "Am I winning?" is usually quite easy to answer. "Is my score higher than the other guy?" usually covers it (though if you're playing something like chess it might be a little more complicated than that). If you're playing a computer game the fact that your character is still alive may well be enough to settle this question in your favour.

In life, though, it is a much harder question to answer. It may well be true that, to the healthy mind, it's not something which should ever really matter,

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Categories and Goals

It's good to have goals. Even if you fail to meet them. Sometimes especially when you fail to meet them. It's quite widely publicised that at Google we're expected to score 0.7 (on a scale where 0 is a complete failure and 1 means all targets were met) when assessing our OKRs (objectives and key results). Generally this is good. It means you're always striving, always raising your eyes, hitting the top of the tree by aiming for the sky.

In my personal life, though, this probably isn't the best approach. Be that as it may, this year I

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So a couple of things about this website have changed. Perhaps you've noticed.

Firstly, I changed the background. Much as I love that dark linen image I was using, it's really obviously "the apple background", which carries connotations I didn't really want to project. The first place I saw it was on an apple device, granted, but I wasn't using it because it's the apple background. The new one is similar aesthetically, yet distinct enough that I don't think it screams "fanboi". It'll do for now. More on that later.

I've also removed that cool effect where the background and

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Wandering Around London

Apologies, once again, for the radio silence. Over the past couple of months there have been some complications in my private life, and a remarkable amount of my attention has been taken up with figuring out where exactly I'm going to be living after my current lease runs out (more on that later, perhaps).

Be that as it may, after almost a year, I did find some time to go wandering around the city I now call home. Whilst I took every opportunity to make a brisk constitutional around Edinburgh, I'd never managed to really do this in London. Part

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Now We're Blogging with Photos!

Fair warning: this is going to be a bit of a programming heavy blog post. It's also going to be quite Mac specific.

One of the things I wanted to change about the format of this blog was to make it more visual, specifically with pictures. This first part of this was to add pictures to the front page. There were a couple of options for doing so. I could just scan through an article, look for the first image tag and use this. Alternatively I could add a mechanism which allowed me to choose the image, in a similar

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New (ish) Year, New (ish) Blog

2011 was an interesting year for me. A lot changed. I turned 30. After 10 years of residency I moved away from Edinburgh, a city I love dearly, and took a job in London. With Google. As a result, I no longer work with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for a living. Instead I build web services. Quite the change, I'm sure you'll agree. In the early months of the year I finally completed the corrections to my PhD, and then in the summer: I graduated. It took 6 years (all together) but I am now Dr. Nick Johnson. I also lost

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The Kaiser Chiefs Do NOT Get to Say They Called This...

Well. These are certainly interesting times to be living in London. Interesting times to be living in England full stop, in fact. In particular, I definitely picked an ideal time to move to Clapham.

I have a bad habit of being more or less completely oblivious to what's going on in the world, unless it happens in either the tech or movie industries. I subscribe to those blogs and news sites, but I rarely read the paper or turn on the news, so something has to land with quite a thud, more or less in my lap, for me to

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The Sound of One Hand Clapping...

...would make significantly more noise than I have on this blog, as of late.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The main one is that I don't actually have the internet in my new flat yet, and won't for another 9 days. Bloody Virgin Media. Serves me right for not going with media which has a bit more experience, I suppose. I'm writing this at work, which is something I really don't like to do, but it's very much the end of the day and I'm in late because I started late. I figure: a quick post can't

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The Process and the Platform

The effort required to actually publish that last post was... considerable. Several factors contributed to this:

  • I have slow internet access at my hotel;
  • Currently, my only (full) computer is my work laptop;
  • This doesn't have iPhoto installed (this is mostly for reasons of simplicity, I'd probably get it if I asked).

In the end, I wrote the text of the post in Evernote on my iPad (using an external keyboard), since I'm supposed to install an absolute minimum of third party software on the laptop. Next, I did a copy paste into BlogPress, a blogging app which lets you

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What, in your opinion, qualifies something as a good advert? Answers on postcard, or alternatively in the comments section below, if you find that easier.

In the technical sense the main thing is surely that you actually end up buying the product in question. In terms of absolute results, I suspect that subtlety is probably key. If an advert manages to plant the suggestion that you want to buy something without ever making you feel advertised to, then it's likely to achieve its goals. The problem is that if a person realises this is happening then a fairly strong negative

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