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Brave New Worlds

If you were writing a taxonomy of stories you might choose books as a good place to start. Flicking your way through the world's libraries, time and the Dewey Decimal System would eventually bring you to the fantasy genre. There is a lot of fantasy writing out there, and you might choose to subdivide it further. A one potential way of cutting it neatly in twain is like so: Stories set in our world; Stories not set in our world. Simple. Harry Potter, for instance, is set in our world. That's a big part of the appeal. Likewise so are…

Nick JohnsonNick Johnson

Spicy!

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…

Nick JohnsonNick Johnson

The Day Job Part 2: Let's get SAUC-E!

If you know when I started my PhD you'll be aware that it took quite some time for me to finish it. There are various reasons for this. One is that I spent quite a bit of time working and getting industrial experience during it. The other is that it took me something in the region of 18 months to figure out what it was I was actually going to do. This happens quite a bit at the Ocean Systems Laboratory, you don't actually start working on a particular project or problem, you just sort of find something which seems…

Nick JohnsonNick Johnson

Spins a Webb, any size...

Okay, so there has been a shameful lack of posts here in recent weeks, and for that I apologise. I've had some stuff going on in both my personal and professional lives, and so this blog has really been put on the back burner. I swear to you that there is more coming, though, and soon. I have a fairly large and media laden post which is mostly written, but not yet bloggified, for instance. In the mean time, how about a small diversion? Even if you know me in real life, you might not be aware of this small…

Nick JohnsonNick Johnson

The Elephant in the Room

Since I haven't been able to do any actual work on my Clockwork Aphid project as of late, I suppose I may as well talk about the background behind it a little more. Those who talk about it the most are the ones doing it the least, and all that. I've spoken a little about virtual worlds before and focussed almost entirely on World of Warcraft, because it's a the big one. It's not the only MMORPG, and it definitely wasn't the first. It is the one that I have most experience with, and statistically the one most other people…

Nick JohnsonNick Johnson

The Day Job: Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

If you're reading this blog and don't actually know me in the real world then you might be wondering "who actually is this guy?" and possibly even "what is it that he actually does, aside from starting to talk about procedural landscape generation, and then falling suddenly silent?" Well, clearly I'm a person who is currently coming to the end of a PhD, and I have a full time job. But doing what, exactly? If in fact you do know me in the real world, you still might be wondering about that. For the most part,…

Nick JohnsonNick Johnson