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 my grandmother, a fact which still brings me to tears on occasion.

In this light, the fact that I decided, towards the end of the year, to shift my blog away from Wordpress and over to its own domain barely even casts a shadow. I did, though, and as a result you're now reading these words on a site built using Octopress, which is hosted at As you may have noticed, all of the old posts from my wordpress site have been ported over, minus the short film reviews, which you'll find here. I'm not going to go into how I accomplished this, except to say: I did it the same way Matt Gemmel did.

For the most part, this site is stock Octopress. I've played with the fonts, made the heading and background static and added a little more infrastructure (index pages for tags, embed scripts for YouTube and Vimeo videos and a couple of other bits). It's not finished, but it will serve well enough for me to try and start producing actual content again. I do want to make it a bit more visual, particularly the front page, and somehow integrate other content I produce into it. I also want to make it work a little better on mobile browsers and, lastly, make it a little bit more my own. The colours will change, and I'll try to find a background which doesn't require such a large file and isn't so closely associated with Apple.

What will I be writing about though? Well:

I plan to have Clockwork Aphid actually doing something of use this year. I'm going to enhance the current Java version up to a point where it can generate interesting landscapes efficiently and in a parallel fashion. I'm then going to then have a crack at porting it to Go, which I think may turn out to be an excellent language for writing computer games.

I like films. Perchance you may have noticed. I may chat a bit more in depth about a couple of this year's releases. Just to pick three with a common theme off the top of my head:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man. I went to a preview event for this in Leicester Square a month or two ago and was very impressed with what I saw. I'm hopeful they made a Spider-Man movie in the same way that Christopher Nolan makes Batman movies. Really really.
  • The Dark Knight Rises. Speaking of which. This is exciting. It's the last of the trilogy. It's got a lot to live up to, especially since the last film Nolan made was Inception. I wouldn't bet against it, though.
  • The Avengers. Now here's a film with some scope. All these characters in one film? With this cast? Written and directed by Joss Mother Fucking[1] Whedon? Please, please let this film live up to the frankly stupid amount of potential it has.

Quite recently, at the aforementioned age of 30, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with a selection of my colleagues. Well, we're actually playing Pathfinder, but let us not quibble about semantics. I'm having a really great time on several different levels. It's an interesting experience for someone who has played computer games for most of their life, but never dabbled in table top RPGs.

I mentioned before that I now have a shiny new PhD, with the letters before and after my name to prove it. I'm of the opinion that the work which led to this is quite interesting (but then I would be). It's also not completely divorced from my Clockwork Aphid project. I'm of a mind to try talking about this some, also.

See you when we get there.

  1. I think these are his actual middle names. ↩︎