Replay of the Wild

It’s not often I want to replay a computer game, but Breath of the Wild is one of those games. I completed it in 2017 after around 160 hours of playtime on the Wii U, and was so exhausted with it I remember clearly thinking that this was a game that had been a wonderful experience but couldn’t be replayed.

18 months later and I was given a copy of the game for the Switch and it took me a few months before I put it in, but as soon I did I was excited to explore the vast open spaces of the Kingdom of Hyrule once again.

The game is pretty much identical to the version I’d already played on the Wii U, with maybe a slightly longer draw distance, but even when playing in handheld mode you still get an incredible sense of exploration and space. Despite winning multiple “Game of the Year” awards, one of the main criticisms with it has been that the world you explore is just too empty; although I agree with this, it’s the absence of other characters which gives you such a sense of freedom in the game and gives you the space to experiment and play with the world without feeling a sense of pressure to complete the next step in the story or the next side quest (and heaven knows there are enough of them!).

Basically, this game is not only beautiful but a joy to play, and I’m loving running, flying and swimming through it all over again. I’m 60 hours in, and I can only hope it doesn’t end too soon.

Art detail

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best film I’ve seen in the last six months. It’s imaginative, exciting, funny and constantly visually inventive.

If that wasn’t enough, the artists have posted a slew of content about little details in the film (which Simon Willison has gathered in a twitter thread), and sidefx.com interviewed the team about the processes they used to create such great results. They used and abused their pre-existing in-house tools which allowed them to write custom Python code and use procedural generation to prototype and create detailed CG effects that looked and felt hand-drawn, which is incredible.

And hey, if you want, you can even read the screenplay! Excelsior!

Beautiful world history

Twitter is mostly a cesspit of wailing and existential despair and so I avoid it, but the one beacon of light which does call me back in on a regular basis is Ticia Verveer’s account.

Ticia is an archaeologist who regularly posts photos and articles of incredible discoveries from around the world, from a display of noses once used to “repair” Roman and Greek marble statues in the 19th century to Iron Age mudbricks with 3,000 year old finger impressions.

There’s a constant stream of something to learn and wonder at, and isn’t that what we really want from the internet?

Stop yourself from committing to master with git hooks

This is based on the excellent work of Aaron Hoffman which he’s written up here.

This process adds two git hooks to your repositories which prevent you from committing or pushing to a branch named master.

Add directories

Git hooks live in each of your git repositories rather than in a global location, and so the first thing to do is create the files which will be copied into each repository when you do a git clone (or a git init in an existing local repository).

mkdir -p ~/.git-templates/hooks

Add git hooks

Create a file called pre-commit and give it this content:

!/bin/sh
prevent commit to local master branch
branch=git symbolic-ref HEAD
if [ "$branch" = "refs/heads/master" ]; then
echo "pre-commit hook: Can not commit to the local master branch."
exit 1
fi
exit

Create a file called pre-push and give it this content:

!/bin/sh
Prevent push to remote master branch
while read local_ref local_sha remote_ref remote_sha
do
if [ "$remote_ref" = "refs/heads/master" ]; then
echo "pre-push hook: Can not push to remote master branch."
exit 1
fi
done
exit 0

Mark them as executable

chmod a+x .git-templates/hooks/*

Set the git init.templateDir configuration variable

git config --global init.templateDir '~/.git-templates'

Add the hooks to an existing local repository clone

Run git init while in your local clone directory. This is a non-destructive command which will copy the new hooks into your REPO/.git/hooks directory

You can double-check the git-init docs if you’re nervous before doing this!

Add the hooks when you clone a repository

Just clone the repo and your hooks will be in the .git/hooks directory!

Downsides

You will no longer get the sample git hooks copied into REPO/.git/hooks, nor the sample excludes file but they will continue to exist in /usr/share/git-core/templates and can be copied into your ~/.git-templates directory if you want to keep them.

Pentaho problems

I am finding myself using a lot of Pentaho Data Integration at the moment.

It’s a good, powerful, tool, but my god does it have some annoyances.

It’s a drag and drop tool that allows you to process massive amounts of data in parallel, without needing to be an almighty data analyst already. This means that you can bring up the configuration windows for each data processing step you’re working with at the same time, so you can check you’ve named all your variables correctly, and so on.

It has a help system built in, which pops up a window containing the wiki page for the step you’re working with. Except that the help window is modal. The only modal window in the whole application is the one which gives you a guide on what to type into which box or which contains example and values that you might want to copy/paste into your step. Except you can’t. Because modal.

As you run your data process, Pentaho marks each step as in progress, or successful. Except that if you have your process divided up into multiple data transformations then you can only check the status correctly if you close all but the first transformation in the process, run it, and then re-open the sub-transformations from there. Baffling.

When your transformations are running you get a nice real-time log of what’s happening at the bottom of your screen, which you can scroll through. Except that as new lines are added to the log it scrolls it to the bottom. Good luck finding the log message you were looking at before!

More complaining into the void next time! Hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am!

Downloading a Udemy course

I have bought Go: The Complete Developer’s Guide on Udemy. It’s been a good intro so far, but there are more than 90 videos, and I’d quite like to do some each day at work, where streaming video isn’t always allowed.

The author of this course has allowed his videos to be downloaded, but that’s on a video-by-video basis. I’d like to grab all of them.

udemy-dl has me covered, downloading all the videos in mp4 format and grabbing the subtitles too. This is almost certainly against the Udemy terms and conditions, but in practice will be very useful. Who knows, maybe I’ll even end up buying more courses!

Writing for the future

About a year after my son was born, when my memory started working again, I started writing a blog about the things he was getting up to.

I started it on 19 September 2010, 2718 days ago. In that time I have made 733 posts, roughly one every four days. Obviously there are peaks and troughs, but that’s a nice average to have. Enough time can pass between each one for something new, nice or surprising to happen and warrant recording.

I don’t use pictures, only words, because I’m keen that moving blogging platforms, or the vagaries of image resizing don’t destroy it over time. In 18 months my son will be ten, I think that’ll probably be enough posts to get it printed out and bound. I’ve used https://www.lulu.com/ many times with great success, but there are other services which do WordPress-specific imports so hopefully I’ll find something which lets me do it nice and easily as well as making something that looks good, and lets me preserve my digital record well past the ability of any digital records management.

Playing games

Growing up I played the board games that you might expect a kid growing up in the 80s to play: Scrabble, Monopoly, Frustration, Cluedo and so on. Although I mostly enjoyed them, they were all tedious in their own ways. The more interesting the game, the longer it took, and the more “adult” it was seen to be and was therefore either out of reach of my younger sibling or took to long to play with my parents. Today is very different.

Sites like https://boardgamegeek.com/ mean that it’s possible to find games for my kids which don’t take too long to play and are also accessible for their ages, meaning they’re much more fun!

As well as some of the classics like “Guess Who” and “Connect 4” we’ve acquired Kingdomino, Castle Panic and Labyrinth, all of which are good fun.

On our horizon I can definitely see Catan Junior and Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Europe). Hopefully my kids will be able to look back on the board games they played with pleasure rather than mild horror, and will be able to play better, more interesting games as they grow up.