June 6, 2023


Tags: Games, Miniatures

Through the purchase of various bordgames I have acquired a large number of small miniatures. Most of them are just the monochrome plastic. I thought it might be nice to try painting them. However, I didn’t want to start by wrecking the minis of any of my current games, so I bought a learn to paint kit (from Reaper Miniatures) which came with a few test minis.

Behold the result of my labours:

First Attempt

Not great, but not awful. They are each about 5 centimeters in height and at a tabletop viewing distance look “ok”. Of course if you get close or look at closeup photos, all you can see are the errors. So what did I learn apart from my eyesight is getting worse and my hands are unsteady?

  • The less paint per layer the better. It is easier to fix up a watered down bad stroke with another stroke/layer, rather than being stuck with too much paint hiding details or just in the wrong place.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Have a “mistake” brush handy. If paint goes where it shouldn’t, promptly brushing it with water will usually fix it up.
  • They took about 3 hours each (one at a time), so try doing a few at once. Hopefully I’ll speed up.

I think it is worth continuing. Next up I’m going to try some duplicate BattleTech miniatures.

May 3, 2023


Tags: Travel, Australia

It has been a while since I last travelled out of Perth, so it was nice to get away to Adelaide and its surrounds for a week.

Some thoughts:

  • Adelaide seems like a very quiet city, it reminds of Perth in that regard. However, where Perth is all about the beach or river, for Adelaide it is all about wineries. Must be a nice place to live.
  • The Adelaide city markets are definitely worth a visit - should be more places like this in Australia.
  • The little laneways around the edges of either end of Rundle St (not the mall) have some great alfresco dining.
  • The center of Adelaide is very well laid out and pleasant to be around. It is encircled by a park which is excellent planning (reminded me of the half-encircling Turia Gardens in Valencia).
  • The last winery in a winery tour should pay the tour organisers. Anecdotally, the last place on the tour makes the most sales since everyone is a little drunk.
  • Going to wineries gets a bit repetitive - how many ways are there to say “this is a nice wine”?
  • There is not much to see at the mouth of the Murray River (Australia’s longest river), but the drive down there has some interesting sights (and of course, wineries).
  • Still using my iPhone for photos, maybe time to dump the old camera?
  • A week is more than enough to “see” Adelaide.

Some photos from the trip are in a short slideshow available here.

March 15, 2023


Tags: General, Memories

Some time ago the news included a story about the British government hiring an Australian ex-politician to be a trade envoy during the Brexit upheavel. I thought this was an understandable move from the point-of-view of British politicians and civil servants. If it all went badly (as was likely) thay could just blame the Aussie and sack him.

It reminded me of the blame management I sometimes saw while working at large firms. At a couple of places there was a layer of management usually above the team managers and below senior managers that had “taking the blame” as a big part of their implicit job description. At some places outside consultants seemed to occupy the same role. Officially they were always in charge of this or that project, but had no direct power to get work done. They had responsibility without authority. If things didn’t succeed they got the blame for events outside their control. The cynic would suggest they were just the sacrificial lambs to ensure the senior managers remained unblemished. Rarely did any technical (ie non-management) get serious blame for the larger problems. Smaller things we got the blame for all the time, often deservedly, but here I mean the larger failures noticable to senior management. I wonder if this was the same outside the IT world? I suspect in my world blaming the people close to the work (like Software Engineers) would be counter-productive as we could just leave and get another job very easily. I also assume senior management never considered themselves the problem.

I developed a rule of thumb for identifying blame managers. If you job was to “coordinate” or other vague terms that seemed to describe a lack of concrete responsibilty, you were safe. You could probably worm yourself out of a bad situation. If your job was “delivery” or running a project and you did not actually have any resources or subordinates, especially if you are in a matrix-based organisation - watch out!

February 15, 2023

Boardgames of 2022

Tags: Games, Board Games

I have started tracking the boardgames I play during the year. In 2022 I played 11 different titles for a total of 34 games. That doesn’t seem like much to me (but there were also 6 games of my prototypes). Here is the list:

Game Plays
7 Wonders: Duel 10
Terraforming Mars: AE 9
Sprawlopolis 4
Watergate 2
Star Realms: Frontiers 2
Heaven & Ale 2
High Frontier (Space Diamonds version) 2
Ticket To Ride: Europe 1
X-Wing 1
Pandemic 1
Trails of Tucana 1

And now some short reviews of the games I own and have played at least 3 times:

  • 7 Wonders Duel: this is a 2-player only version of the also excellent deckbuilder 7 Wonders. The goal is to build an ancient civilisation by selecting cards from layouts of escalating power. Some of the cards are hidden until they can be chosen other are visible from the start. There are lots of ways to acculumate points and many strategies. You have to adapt to the situation and your opponent. This is an excellent game and so much fun. I’ll be playing much more.
  • Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition: the 2-player version of Terraforming Mars, an engine building game where the players vie to contribute the most towards making Mars human habitable. The back of the box says it plays in under an hour but I never taken less than 90 minutes. So far there is little interaction with the opponent, but the depth of tactics and huge number of possibilities keeps me interested. A good game I’ll keep playing for now, but will it keep me interested when it is more familiar?
  • Sprawlopolis: 18 card city builder. Quick and challenging, you lay the cards down like tiles to plan out a city, while trying to satisfy 3 randomly generated scoring rules. Can be played solo. Everyone I have played this with loves it, and deservedly so. Great to carry around as time-filler between other things (as were all the plays this year).

FYI: 3 plays is the review minimum because that excludes Watergate. I like the asymmetric gameplay of that Watergate, but am worried one side may have an winning advantage - I need more plays before giving a fair review.

February 14, 2023

15 years

Tags: Meta, General

The first post published here was fifteen years ago this month. Now there are 436 posts in total (including this one) corresponding to a rate of 29 posts/year. The result is 2.6MB of ascii text and around 240000 words which means an average post is 550 words.

Since the last similar meta post 7 years ago, I have removed all visitor tracking, so no cookies or comments (or at least there shouldn’t be unless someone is injecting them - let me know if you see any). The site is also hosted for free on Github without logs. Thus it is no longer possible to be sure how many people visit, or from where, or for how long. Although I suspect that the trend is downwards as there are less of the technical posts that picked up organic Google Search traffic in the past and more posts about games I’m playing.

On the plus side, this blog no longers costs me anything (other than writing time). At the start it cost US$10/month for hosting plus my sysadmin time. Then it went to US$5/month + sysadmin as improving technology compared to my relatively static requirements meant I could use smaller systems. Now hosting a few GB of static site is effectively no cost, and certainly no cost to me.

In the very first post I detailed my reasons for creating this blog:

“The aim of this blog is to detail my attempts to create a business that exists on more just selling my time as a consultant; other programming projects I undertake; and any other nonsense I think about.”

I think that last clause has been met :) It has been some time since the last programming post (other than advertising for my games). Most of my days are spent coding, but I rarely feel what I doing is notable enough for public comment. I should probably change that, and just force out some technical posts.