Tuesday, December 26, 2017

It's Snowing and Santa has been

Here comes the Snow! ❆ The timing was pretty much perfect with the lead up to Christmas. πŸŽ„ 😊 Even though a lot had fallen over many hours and our housing estate looked pretty major, I was still able to commute to work without any issue. However, for several days there were severe mornings with black ice. Thankfully, every road I had to travel on was treated with grit by the Oxfordshire County Council Highways team. πŸ‘ 

Christmas 2017 ::
Even though this has been a relatively quiet Christmas, it has been one of the best for many, many years. Mrs. A and I have enough food and drink and togetherness to keep up happy and content for the entire festive period. My anxiety and stress levels have now pretty much disappeared, which is not only amazing but perfectly timed as well. We had a nice selection of presents, Toiletries, Clothes, and Chocolates. πŸ˜‹πŸ’“ Two of main presents were unexpected, but very welcoming all the same. One of the presents from Mrs. A was a Cross Stitch Kit. I wanted to start another hobby and maybe do some basic retro gaming designs.
Even though the design may take a while to do, it's something different and also cute. I really like the Tiger and Bees that surround it! 😊

The next present was really, really unexpected. I had been mulling over the decision on purchasing this device, after the disappointing failure with the Eee PC. So, an Amazon parcel arrives for Mrs. A and me, she gets a fantastic Picnic Basket with all the items required and I receive the following ... 😲
Mrs. A's brother, John had surprised us again this year and with me, it was a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. One of my first decisions with this wonderful device, was to install RetroPie. This would be the ultimate multi-arcade platform retro experience! 😍

I managed to figure out how to install game ROM files for specific systems, this involves copying them from a USB memory stick to a system RetroPie ROM folder, for example, ZX Spectrum where the files can be loaded from.
The interface of Retropie is fairly intuitive and there is plenty of options available to tweak the whole environment to your liking.
Over the coming weeks and months, I should be able to get all my favourite games loaded onto the system and boot up for a quick game or two whenever I feel the need. No need for long undate files and patches like modern day consoles! 😬 
I watched Shin Godzilla on DVD ( present from Mrs.A ) Christmas Day as there was nothing much else on Television. It was a really good reboot from the original 1954 version. The tweak to the storyline and added special effects were truly amazing! Well worth watching! πŸ˜ƒ
During December, Mrs. A came to ther rescue and purchased another fitness band for me. This is an M2 band from ThinkRace. Their products can be bought through outlets like Amazon and eBay. The reason why I changed from my MiFit device, was because it was inadvertently lost literally down the Toilet when a replacement band fell apart during that flushing meadows moment we partake everyday or whenever. To think about it now, is nothing short of being hilarious. I heard a chink, but thought of it just being a coin or my keys falling on the floor! 😁

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter - 16 Degrees )
Up until Christmas, I hadn't done much game development. However, I plan to start turning on the collision detection to see how crazy, sorry, I mean the gameplay is going to pan out. I would say the drawing or pixelling is currently taken most of the time. But it is something that I really enjoy, whilst trying to fit it in around other projects and other life commitments.
Over the holiday I have, I hope to get a bit further with the game. Whilst still not forcing myself to rush the overall project. Pacing myself is far better than rushing any progress. Next year should bring much more and you never know, the game will be completed at some stage! 😎

Into the New Year ::
I have to say that 2017 had brought some challenging situations, which I managed to overcome and resolve. The key thing was not to give up and ask for help whenever and where possible. This definitely worked out to be a better focus for the future. πŸ‘

And finally ...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Shirt Buttons

Apart from food and a roof over our heads, money is an important factor in everyday life. Sometimes we don't realise this, as it is programmed automatically within us through a process. At the end of each week or month from a paid job or benefits, we pay our way, as we eat, breath and sleep. It isn't until the movement of the financial pendulum, suddenly turning into a chaotic motion, that brings us to understand that there is a problem.
Shirt Buttons - When it's all the money you have!
The glamour and enticement of obtaining credit through finance or retail outlets are all too easy and straightforward. Only the creditor can see the potential with ample amounts of an annual percentage rate, which can vary so much between banks and lenders. If we can't afford to pay off the full amount each month, we pay the minimum and get charged interest as a result. It's always been this way, especially with insurance policies. " You can't pay the full policy in advance? That's no problem, pay it over 11 months with a deposit we'll charge you extra! " - It's too late! They've stung you without even realising it!

And through desperation, we turn to credit when everyday bills rise and the rent or mortgage is due. Some say the saddest thing, is when credit is used to buy food or a food bank is relied upon just fill an empty stomach. We do what we need to do, in order just to survive!
  Debt is now all too common, it's ridiculous!

And so, for me, I fell into secondary debt through a loan and credits cards which had built up over many years! It bit me like a rabid Dog or a frenzied Shark swimming the perilous seas, as I drowned with no sign of surviving. But there is always hope and it starts with asking for help from one of the many debt advice charities and organisations. I took my first brave step and contacted Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in April 2017.

Throughout the duration of being in debt, the creditors wrote letters and phoned pretty much constantly. The phone calls must have been well over 200 times across several months, which seemed a real waste of energy and my circumstances hadn't changed at all. From day one, I suffered from crying, sleepless nights, stress, depression, lack of appetite and experienced scary types of anxiety attacks, which involved dizziness and vomiting! Each and every step has been taken seriously which is no wonder why I have felt so tired and exhausted. It really does hit you hard and to think there are some out there in the big wide world that commits suicide as a last resort to finding a way out. It is so sad, it's frightening for someone to follow that path! Life is so precious and a person with that frame of mind taking their final decision is very hard to comprehend. I did ironically attend a stress and anxiety course through Talking Space Plus in June 2017, which was very beneficial. Even though the accumulation of anxiety had been building up before and after the course.

During my amazing debt support with CAP, I attended a money course where I learned lots of new and useful ideas on how to budget and save. You then begin to realise that one of the bases of credit in some ways, is to get what you want quicker! Rather than taking the more sensible route of saving and waiting. We tend to live in a utopian world of credit which is sadly classed as the norm nowadays.

I have also learned that there are two main types of debt, primary and secondary. Primary covers; mortgages, rent, local taxes, utilities, cable, and satellite etc. Secondary covers, loan, credit cards etc. Although both types of debt aren't good to fall behind with. Primary carries the most serious consequences with secondary the lesser. So, it is very important to ask for help when the moment everything financially becomes difficult.

One of the most difficult things is to speak up about debt. It's far too easy for some to be judgemental and shame a person for their situation. The ignorance and reaction can be detrimental to persons well being and mental health. It is one thing being in debt, but to be mocked and ridiculed, is another thing altogether!

My end to debt has closed with going insolvent with my fee paid for by kind charities and donations known through CAP. It now means that I have a fresh start and even though my credit score will be affected for six years, I will no longer have to carry the weight of financial pressure and can live a normal life again.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Festive and Frosty

It's that time of year again! Yeah! The frosty mornings have returned and it is a strange treat to de-ice the car, scraping the windscreen whilst bundled up with a fleece, coat and gloves. For the moment, I haven't required a hat, only time will tell though. As per usual Mrs A and I celebrated our UK equivalent of Thanksgiving with all the food you can eat and very nice it was too. 😊

My anxiety levels have been fever pitch during this month and I have tried my best to manage the situation. Even though I have found it difficult at times, the relaxation through sleeping and a calming process has helped. I am certain to pass this phase by and look into the new year soon with a more positive frame of mind.

Mrs A has been quite creative over the last few days and has crochet some marvellous festive decorations! πŸ˜ƒ She finds it easier to Crochet than Knit and that's alright with me. πŸ˜‰
An adorable Christmas Tree with Star
Kitchen Cupboard Wreath
Last month I mentioned that one of my front teeth had fallen out. Over the years, the work that I had been done involving a fixed brace on the upper set had finally shown wear. Part of the process involved removing one protruding tooth and wearing the brace for about three months. I mean, this was when I was 18 years old. Plenty of time has passed since then and from the dentist explanation, the root of the fallen tooth had been weakening over the years. For those that are really curious, here is a cropped photo of what I am having to bravely bear until the Tooth Fairy can help me.
Tooth lost in action
At first, I felt self-conscious about my appearance. Some people didn't even notice at first until I had mentioned it to them. So, for the time being, I soldier on. 😣

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter - 16 Degrees )
I continue to faithfully design background tiles, even if part of the process is still in a draft phase. It won't be too long until I get to the final detailed version of each tile. 😎
The core elements of the game are working as expected with the appearance of some Drones to keep the player on their toes. As if trying to maintain the weapon temperature wasn't enough? 😁

And finally ...

Friday, October 27, 2017

Tiling and The Tooth is out!

The daily commute to work is now like night, even though it is stupid'o clock in the morning. That's fine however, I have always liked an early start to the working day. I don't think the weather can make it's mind up, as it is still relatively mild at the moment. The heating hasn't been switch on yet at Aris HQ, but there is going to be the big switch on at the end of October. Just in time for Autumn and Winter to really kick in! 😊

I think the change in season has made me feel more tired, I felt more alert during the Summer months, all I want to do now is hibernate. For some reason, I still feel anxious about certain things. I now find when I make a mistake, I can't forgive myself and stress over the matter. There seems to be more energy into the theory why a problem has occured, rather than just moving on and learning. I do however think that over analysis in trying to be too perfect with some tasks really doesn't help! πŸ˜• A more relaxed approach is probably better, life and situations aren't always perfect.

A few days ago, a troublesome tooth from a year ago finally fell out. Now, for several weeks, it had become quite loose and began to literally interfere whilst I was eating anything. There was no pain, just annoyance more than anything.
You may well be trying to work out what part of the mouth the tooth came from? Well, it is in fact the front left to the middle two front teeth. Cosmetically, it does look quite stark! 😨 All is not lost though, the Tooth Fairy  maybe able to help out and get me a bridge tooth. That will hopefully be sometime next month! πŸ˜ƒ

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter - 16 Degrees )
Apart from some more tweaks to the player and enemy objects, I decided to design some basic background tiles. Without even realising, GameMaker Studio2 can now support animated tiles. This will prove very useful whilst designing levels with water based backgrounds or a simple attract mode. Each animation speed can be adjusted by frames per second ( FPS ), so it can be slow or fast by how you want it to be.
I have now added two addition power-up weapons for the player, forward multi-directional orbs and a homing missle. One of the enemy objects acts as a parent object with the rest of the enemies regarded as child object, so when a homing missle is fired it will follow any enemy and rotate to change course accordingly. Each power-up will have a timer for about 30 seconds and it will then reset to the default weapon. I think the game would be too easy if all the weapons were active, but there should be enough shooting to keep the player occupied! πŸ˜‰
There should hopefully be a more detailed background for next time. Perhaps some buildings, trees and water based features. I think I need to put in some bridges, even if a does give it a feel or hommage to River Raid. πŸ›© πŸ˜‰

And finally ...

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Who's the Boss?

So, it's here again ... Autumn! Although, it doesn't feel like it temperature wise. You could probably get away with wearing a t-shirt or light coat. For a about a week, we didn't use a fan during the night at Aris HQ, but now it's on set to night mode. This enables a gentle sweep of air to keep the room cool without adding too much disturbance to relaxation and sleep. πŸ’€

In preparation for the cold and flu season, I've started to stock up on the appropriate medication. 😷This should last for a while unless the heavy colds persist, then I'll get some more. The cold and flu relief are favoured more, as the hot drink really helps sooth a sore throat as well. 😊
There is no LEGO related section this month. I've been spending more time doing game development, if only in small sections over a weekend. So, it nothing has been abandoned and do expect some sections to be semi-regular at times. πŸ˜‰

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter - 16 Degrees )
Over the last few weeks I have been working on the end of level enemy bosses. Each one looks different and is surrounded by enemy scout ships, which must be destroyed finally, before the boss. I am hoping to have each one moving in some way or another with a missile or orb homing in on the player.
Not only have I been working on the end of level bosses, but also little touches like enemy thrust trails like the players, but in blue. It looks much better than a static graphic behind the moving object and a bit more realistic.
I think over the next few months, the game is going to really pull together. The scrolling background will change, but only towards the end of the project. As with the current design and build, everything is subject to change. πŸ˜‰

And finally ...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

LED Bulbs, The Caterham and Triggers

This month has been much more settling and less of a roller coaster experience. Sleep is much more easier to get to grips with, staying up late like during my younger days is now a thing of the past. That's why most nights 10pm is the limit, unless it's New Years Eve. πŸ˜‰

The weekly grocery shop at Aldi is still proving to be a great money saving exercise. I have noticed that fruit, vegetables and meat can very in price a little, still better value than most of the other well known supermarkets. A continual win-win! 😊

LEGO :: ( 21307 | Caterham )
With no speed build for this month and as luck would have it ... πŸ˜‹ A colleague from work kindly offered to lend me one of his recent purchases to construct, due to him having to pack items up for a house move. So, I took up his offer and built the following ...
The building sensation is quite different when the set isn't from new and with LEGO pieces in one more press and seal bags, the time taken to complete is increased. It took two hours to build and 30 minutes to take apart. I really liked the techniques with the Caterham. You really don't expect after linking each section that you'd end up with the finest car and I could imagined a racing green colour. Just think as well, what it would been like if it was a Bentley? πŸ˜ƒ

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter - 16 Degrees )
Throughout August, I have played around attack waves with the added option of random enemies just in case the player becomes used to game play. There will be standard enemy bullets and intercepting ones, rather like homing missiles. But for now, most of the basic mechanics is working and in place. Notice the trigger points during the game? They won't be visible, the lines act as point to launch the attack wave or another action. The player could well race to a specific point of the level or take longer if they wish. There won't be any overall time to complete each level, only a timer/temperature penalty if the player is fires too much.
The title and intermediate screens have a basic layout and are subject to change. For the moment there will be three levels with different degrees of difficulty. Once everything is in place with collision detection turned on, all will make perfect sense! πŸ˜€

LED Light Bulbs :: ( At Home )
For some weeks or even months, I have been mulling over the idea of getting some LED Light Bulbs for Aris HQ. Currently, we have energy savings ones which last up to five years. Each bulb could save over 85% according some technical specifications. I gather that would be verses a domestic bulb and not an energy saving one? Still, that's good in my books. πŸ˜‰
Just in case you are wondering, they are very bright! πŸ’‘πŸ˜

And finally ...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Attack waves, a Car and the House !

I just about made it through July. Notably through surviving an anxiety attack which wasn't very pleasant at all. This all seems ironic after attending sessions through Talking Space Plus only just last month. Thankfully, my attack happened at home and for the first time in a couple of years, I took a few days off sick from work. I hadn't slept properly for over a week and my body clock was messed up to the point where I was forcing myself to eat. After about 48hrs with sleep and relaxation, I actually started to feel better. I purchased some natural aid sleeping tablets by Kalms with Valerian root extract. This has definitely helped and I will probably extend the course for another month. The recommended time take one tablet is before bedtime.

Time had come around again to renew my Driving Licence and I can't believe 10 years has passed. If you have a valid Passport, your photo can be used and processed online. However, I had to do things differently and visited the main Post Office in Oxford. Whilst there, your photo and signature are digitally taken with the rest of the application processed. I was expecting it to take up to two weeks, but I received mine within three working days. Excellent! 😊 

Lego :: ( MOCs | speed builds )
To my surprise, I managed to get two speed builds recorded and edited. Each build uses classic bricks which are pretty common in my collection at the moment. Apart from regular bricks, I also have what I call non-regular which are specific certain sets or builds. I initially would like to sort them into colours and types. Over time, this will probably happen, subject to space and costs. Keeping the bricks in two tubs at the moment is easy, but not so convenient when your trying to locate one for a build.
I really like the house build, but would of liked to have a window, door and sloped roof tiles. Using regular bricks doesn't necessarily have limitations, it's how you apply the design to make the subject stand out and be noticeable.
You really can't beat a cartoon character and especially one with big eyes and squishy tyres. I know the wheels aren't perfectly round, that's what makes this design so quirky. Keeping the imagination flowing helps. A few designs ago, I didn't actually use the Digital Designer from Lego. They were designed on what I call, the fly! For example, the Emoticons and Trees. When I computer isn't on and you have containers of Lego at hand, it's win, win regardless! πŸ˜‰

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter - 16 Degrees)
I've been concentrating on basic attack waves so far this month. Your general, left, right, up and down, but also sweeping movements from the left and right. It has been fun experimenting with different techniques as well.
The friction and speed code can be adjusted to give a more realistic sweeping motion. With the Path editor, you can be basic or elaborate as desired. 😎
I think I might start slowing preparing the intermediate screens soon, not forgetting the title screen. I have a basic idea on how I want the layout. The gameplay might appear simple and hopefully when everything is in place and tweaked, it will all become much clearer. πŸ˜‰

And finally ...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Wow! Temperatures rose to up 34cπŸ˜…degrees during June with not much rain to speak of. Although, we should be grateful for better weather, but when it is 20c during the night with windows open and just a fan blowing the air around, it gets uncomfortable.😳 It's also hayfever season, thankfully, Aldi had 14 day Loratadine for 89 pence. πŸ˜‚

Also, during this month I have been attending anxiety and depression therapy sessions through Talking Space Plus. For some time now, I have had a mixture of anxiety and stress issues which were first reported to my doctor. A suggestion was made to contact Talking Space Plus about how they maybe able to help, so I registered with them and have found the sessions very helpful and informative. I didn't want to go down the path of relying on any form of medication, but each person is different and also every level of anxiety and depression. Life sometimes puts us through a lot of scenarios or we become involved in them without choice. The most important thing to do, is to ask for help or talk to someone about your situation. This is always the first and brave step to take! People can sometimes be quite judgemental and ignorant about a subject or scenario, so I would recommend talking to a professional or charitable organisation, trusted confident or friend or your doctor. This should always be free and never a chargeable case in any sense of the word!

Lego :: ( MOCs )
I was hoping to get the House speedbuild mentioned last month with the photograph teaser from April done. However, I haven't had much time to prepare, record and edit a video. I usually use time during a weekend or on a day off, but as we all know life does sometimes get in the way. I'll try and allocate some time during July, as I have three days off around mid month. So, fingers crossed! πŸ˜‰

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter - 16 Degrees)
A small amount of time was spent this month setting up some of the rules for the now named shooting game, 16 degrees. The name derives from a recommended minimal office / school temperature advisory. Of course when I was at school and earlier jobs, you just had to put a coat on and kind of get on with it. So far, I have a moving ship that fires with a timing frequency.
GameMaker Studio 2 is becoming more and more enjoyable everything time I use it. Moving from version 1.4 hasn't been as bad as I first thought. If projects from 1.x to 2 are imported, you will be expected to look over your code and check everything. To be honest, I would start new projects in 2 and finish off others 1.x. It is usually better to work this way and would prevent frustrations at a later date.
The plan is to get the basic rules layed down and working as a start. Then once this is acheived other features, effect and backgrounds etc will be added. Even though I do like space themed shooting games, I would like to try and add some mixed backdrops with animated attract modes or objects. Little touches like this will make it look better and more interesting!
As you can see from the animated GIF, it's just the basics. Temperature will have an effect on the game play as well, just to make things a bit more interesting. I plan on putting in a few power ups, this will no doubt invovle those loveable variables! 😁

Eee PC Project :: ( Bunsen Labs Debian )
Last month I managed to get the Asus Eee 4G 701 PC working with an installation of Lubuntu with a minimal installation. However, for whatever reason, there wasn't much disk storage space left at the end. I think there literally only 200-300 megabytes left. So, thanks to recommendation of Lee Hearne, I installed Bunsen Labs Debian. Not only was the installation a lot quicker, it also left stacks of disk storage space, about 1+ gigabyte I believe.πŸ˜„
Now, after the success I tried my hand at trying to install Emulation Station. After a few sudo updates via terminal, I had some results.
Part of the Nintendo NES Emulation partly launched, but failed at RetroArch. So, for the time being there is a little more work to get at least one system up and running. I guess this will be a semi-regular slot with progressive updates. The main goal with this, is to have a mini arcade retro gaming PC! πŸ˜‰

And finally ...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trees and the Eee PC Project

After the mixed bag of events from last month, mostly with the feeling of 'Meh', I've started to feel a bit better and have managed to get back on with my interests and hobbies alike. I had my Thyroid levels checked and they are normal. So, I have tried to get more rest whenever possible. Sleep is always a bit random when I sometimes only get four to five hours a night, mostly during a working week. Alhough, the feeling of slight Jet lag is always with me, being one of the conditions of an under active Thyroid. πŸ˜–

Lego :: ( MOCs | Tree )
I feel as if I'm back on track with the speed builds and for this month I present a couple of trees. These could quite easily be used for a Minecraft or similar rustic project using classic bricks. I think it has been good to have a short break, even though I have an abundance of ideas, not having to worry about getting a certain amount of videos edited per month is kind of a good thing. I want to enjoy the building design and process. I hope to get the speed build for the house done for June if I can with any other builds that become available. πŸ˜‰
Eee PC Project ::
Over the last few months I have been trying to bring an Asus Eee 4G 701 PC back to life, in the form of getting an operating system fully working on it. Ideally, I wanted to get any version of Linux or Ubuntu running.

Alas, the only working OS I managed to install was Lubuntu with a minimal installation. You can run Live CD or USB builds without installation and that works to a degree. The original OS was Windows XP, but is long gone. I was curious to read that several people had got early versions of Android working, if a bit slow running for some. However, my attempt, even a brave one, wasn't enough to get everything up and running. It would have proved very interesting to get Android working and also fun at the same time. So, for now, Lubuntu it is! 😐

GameDev :: ( PC | Shooter )
Well, I've made a small start in the sense of getting a few variables set out for the next game. The rules will be set out by temperature, power ups of some kind and shooting mostly everything in order to gain that high score.
I am hoping to vary the backdrops / background. A space theme with stars and planets is always good, but I think this time I'll add some land. Probably on the same vain as Phantom - The Mission / Millennium.
I really liked my gamedev from a few years ago, I used to design about two or three a year. Even though I have slowed down a bit, I am proud of what I have achieved since 1988. πŸ˜ƒ

And finally ...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April Showers

This month has been strange and unusual in places, plus I think my under active Thyroid has been acting a bit on the random side, if that makes any sense. During my week off over Easter I spent a couple of days in bed with exhaustion and didn't really feel motivated to do much else. πŸ˜–

I think the weather has been quite a surprise, we've had typical April showers, but also a drop in temperature. I had put my winter coat away and switched to wearing a fleece. Only ending up to wearing my coat again because of a few frosts and 10c or less temperatures. 😨

Hopefully, May and June will pick up pace with projects. I must admit, I have been listening to a lot of music this month. Mostly, Electronica and a lot of 1980's pop and my radio station πŸ“» of choice is Classic FM, which celebrates being 25 this year. 🎢

Lego :: ( MOCs | House and Tree )
Probably for the first time, there isn't a speed build this month. Only a MOC consisting of a House and Tree on an 8 x 16 green baseplate. As usual, it's back to basics with the design, only using regular bricks. I think at some point in the future, I will do a revised version with roof tiles, windows and doors, there might even be a different tree as well. πŸ˜ƒ
I could well of done a grand, larger house, but keeping it humble and simple made the point of the design. Perhaps a side garage with car could have been an option too! πŸ˜‰

And finally ...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Emoticons and the Aldi experience !

In some respects, I am happy to wave goodbye to March. Although, Mrs. A and I celebrated our birthdays, which were nice days for us both. πŸ˜ƒ The weather is changing with warmer temperatures, which is most welcome. Also, now that Spring is with us, the clocks go forward one hour for daylight savings. So, it will be lighter in the mornings and evenings as well! πŸ˜„

Next month with a time off over the Easter period, I hope to continue with my game engine in GameMaker Studio 2. This will include a bit of basic ground work on another shoot'em up game, which as it stands may take some time to produce, as it will only be a part-time project with whatever time I have to work on it. I also want to design some more with Simbrix and Qixels, they are fun to use. I quite like designing retro game characters with them. πŸ˜‰

Lego :: ( MOCs | speed builds )
Everyday without realising it, we use Emoticons to express ourselves through Social Media and via Text messages. I just had to have a go at designing some myself and even though there maybe a tongue-in-cheek element to one of them, I thought they came out okay. The Smiley can easily be modified into other expressions, leaving anything up to the imagination. πŸ˜‰

The Aldi Experience ::
I had known about Aldi moving into the area near Aris HQ since late 2016. My direct thoughts were, that this could only be a good thing. Upon my first shop a few weeks ago, when they opened in early March, was, WOW! 😊 Their stock not only carrries the essential everyday items, but more and at a much more affordable prices. I would also, personally say, that the quality is far greater without even thinking about it. Our regular weekly shops are now at Aldi with noticeable savings.
You also can't help notice prices going up at other Supermarkets on everyday items, by a few pence is to be expected. But in some cases putting an extra 25 pence is a bit unfair! To be honest, companies may rely on how they source certain products and don't really have any choice to raise prices. I have a fear that businesses and companies may well take advantage of the current decision of the U.K. leaving the E.U. ( Brexit ). I am happy to go with the flow of the process, however I wouldn't be too pleased if everything backfires and through panic, the cost of everything rockets! 😑

Stock Markets and the value of currencies can be so delicate at times, but it's the reaction to this that causes uncertainty. For several years Mrs. A and I have rented an apartment. To own a house is more of a distant dream with prices being far from affordable. Even though thousands of homes are being built throughout the U.K., it's a little too late. Whilst some landlords and larger housing associations with an ample portfolio of properties are arrogant enough to keep increasing the rent year by year squeezing out the last pennies from the poor tenant. Living in the south of England is known to be expensive! But I think since lack of affordable homes have been made available, renting has been the only solution. I do believe though, that sometime in the future, however near it maybe, there will be crash in the rental market. When this happens, it will be because no one will able to afford to rent at all! The only way this could be resolved, is where private or market rent landlords would be capped at what they can charge a tenant per month for an apartment, house or even room. The cost of renting per month is in some cases, the same as a mortgage payment. Even though there is a roof over our heads, renting SUCKS! πŸ˜’

And finally ...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bruce Lee and Hearts

It's been a relatively quiet month with not much going on. I had planned on doing a lot more creative projects, but decided to stretch out a few for April ( Easter ). This also includes starting another gamedev project which will inevitably be released and added to the game engine I am working on. Mrs. A and I did design a couple of hearts with Qixels for Valentine's day, these ended up as Badges and resembled retro life hearts. 😍
Lego :: ( MOCs | speed builds )
Bruce Lee was one of only a few games I ever completed on my Commodore 64 back in the 1980's, second to Commando. I think this build is pretty faithful to the original Sprite and the added depth with slight articulation makes it look great! 😊
There is one more arcade mini build with flat plates to come for March and then I may switch to using both, flat and regular bricks. Again, in keeping to a mini build state. Using a mix of bricks will help bulk up the design and would help if I don't have enough flat pieces.

Crowdfunding ::
Over the next few months, there should be the hopeful completion of some Kickstarter projects I funded. As an estimated delivery date approaches each project, there is always the wonder if it will exceed that date. Understandably, in some cases it will, as a lot of projects require time in and around the person or teams life. Currently waiting patiently for : The Mastertronic Archives, Project Sidologie and Reformation.

And finally ...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Watch out for the Fog and also Dinosaurs !

If you have ever seen the original film, " The Fog " by John Carpenter, you will know it was an erry, creepy and somewhat scary horror movie. Oxfordshire has been experiencing some pretty dense Fog during this month and despite there not being Pirates with Cutlesses, driving in these conditions has been quite an experience. πŸ˜†
Lego :: ( MOCs | speed builds )
I have decided to start a series of mini builds based on video game arcade favourites, Arcade Mini's. This will of course be semi-regular with how to build videos made available whenever possible. You will notice that the format and style has changed a bit with more editing and a normal paced building stance. I do plan to continue doing speed builds, so keep a look out via this blog or my YouTube channel.
Space Invader is the first Arcade Mini and although it hasn't any articulation, it looks pretty cute and looks smart on it's stand. You will also notice that it mainly contains flat bricks with a layered build. I think it is easier to understand this way. πŸ˜‰
Pac-Man following up as a second to the start of the Arcade Mini series, is a faithful build to the earlier design from 2015 using only flat bricks again. You might notice a pattern of brick types! 😊

Lego :: ( Creator 31058 Mighty Dinosaurs )
When I first saw the preview photos of this set, I was really impressed and couldn't wait for it's release. The T-Rex, Stegosaurus and Pterodactyl are good representations of the Dinosaurs. At the moment, I prefer the T-Rex and found the build very interesting. With the right coloured bricks you could make an interesting build of Godzilla, even with a few modifications. 😊
Mobile Phone :: ( Huwaei P9 Lite )
Although, I did like my Doogee X6 Pro, I began for find it a bit clunky in places. For around £65 GBP back in June 2016, it served me well. The main one thing that I couldn't get along with was the delay whilst using the touchscreen. Sometimes, I had to tap or use the required gestures repeatedly. At first I thought it might have been the screen protector. So, I removed this. For a while this was okay, but then the responsiveness lessened again. I am guessing that the screen calibration might have been slightly off! πŸ˜– The device was never overloaded with Apps and I ran a good Battery Doctor and Memory Saver ( Clean Master ).
After using the P9 Lite for only a few days, the feel and use of the mobile phone is miles better. A worthy choice from Vodafone. Very happy! πŸ˜€

And finally ...