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.

February 10, 2023


Tags: Goals

Why do I do this? Am I a masochist? Time again to assess last years goals:

  • Increase strength and aerobic fitness: As I write this, I am injured - a reoccurrence of an old foot problem. So my exercise plan is on pause. This happened a couple of times last year. The plan was to lose some weight and then push for new highs. However, due to injury, covid and other things I didn’t manage to start losing weight until November. Thus I am definitely not stronger this year. I have been cycling regularly (until my foot injury a couple of days ago) so I might be fitter aerobically. Call this one a partial success.
  • Finish and release SHD: Done! There should be a patch release soon too.
  • Update Common Library: Done! Or at least done enough to qualify as a success.
  • Computer prototype Ci2D: Nope, not even started (but the plan is to start in March).
  • Paper prototype IPO, Ci2D, & maybe one other: Done! I have decent, not obviously broken, prototypes of IPO & Ci2d. Both could use a few more iterations, but not too bad.
  • 18 blog articles (including Jarrah Technology): Done! There were 12 posts here and 14 on
  • Fix steps, reticulation, ceiling crack & shading: Done!

5.5 out of 7. Not too bad actually.

I’m not going to be as ambitious this coming year:

  • Increase strength and aerobic fitness: Once my foot heals it is time to get back on track. So I need to be aerobically fitter according to my HRM (currently 39 VO2max) and have personal bests for 5 reps (powerlifting rules) in bench press (90kg), overhead press (45kg), and pullups (102kg).
  • Demo quality Ci2D: Have something good enough to show other people (by my assessment).
  • Continue on IPO & maybe one other: IPO might have some potential. I should keep going with it.
  • 18 blog articles (including Jarrah Technology): Same as last year. Easy but just need to do it.
  • Fix the bedroom window issues, fix the terrace drainage problem & build a rabbit hutch: Some things I’ve promised around the house.
  • Paint at least 10 minatures, and have played all my boardgames: I have taken up minature painting although my skill is severely lacking. I should give it a decent try. There are also 5 games currently in my boardgame collection I haven’t played - I need to change that.

December 14, 2022


Tags: Games, Space Hex Duel

Just after the pandemic started, I used the time in lockdown to start writing a new computer game. Later I stopped because it was a mess, but soon after I started again. Now it is released! Since it was never supposed to be a full game (just an experiment to get things going again) I have greatly skimped on promotion and marketing. Ohh, and the name. It is called Space Hex Duel. It is a turn-based game of strategy and careful positioning.

Space Hex Duel

Here is a short trailer showing off the gameplay:

I have put it up on as a Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) download (suggested donation US$2). I recommend interested people download it for free, and if they enjoy it and would like to say thankyou, then go back and donate. Maybe later I will put it out on Steam too.

All the info on the game is ( or will be) on its Jarrah Technology webpage.

Now I need to decide what to do next…