Christopher Odd Youtube Channel Review

This is a social review post done when I should be doing technical posts but I REALLY enjoy this YouTube channel and as this particular YouTuber is moving to running his channel full time it seemed like a good opportunity to do a review.

The channel is called @ChristopherOdd and it’s a ‘let’s play’ channel or ‘long play’ as I used to know them, in which someone plays full video games while narrating what they are doing, there are hundreds of them out there so what differentiates this one from others?

  1. Christopher Odds voice: His voice is far more like an audio book narrator than a gamer, he doesn’t get hysterical, he doesn’t make you wince, he doesn’t get over excited in a fake way (though he suffers baddly from jump scares in horror games) it’s a pleasant dulcet tone to listen too, as someone that listens to a huge number of audio books I’ve come to really appreciate the quality of a narrator and as far as I’m concerned Christopher Odd is the best narrator for games that I have currently met on any platform.
  2. Mental speed: I don’t know his age and I haven’t looked into it (it feels a bit stalkerish to start looking at peoples age and things like that) but he’s about my mental speed, he solves problems at about the speed I do, I don’t want to jump up and down and yell for him to do things faster or slower, he just thinks at a nice pace and I feel after he has completed the game that I have seen all of that game and that it is as complete a play through as I would make.
  3. Being correct without being too correct: Christopher is constantly correcting himself while he’s playing, you can see from one video to another that he is learning and changing his opinions as things grow and change, Cultural slips are corrected, things said in the heat of the moment are amended instantly and this is at a time when his popularity is at about 300000 YouTube followers when a lot of YouTubers think they can get away with saying offensive things without any backlash. It makes you think he is a good person in real life.

These and the choices of the games he plays result in a channel I can watch all day, a rarity in this day and age 🙂

But even if he is a joy to listen too, why would I want to watch a video of someone playing computer games? for me there are two reasons

  1. He plays a series of games that I would never play!! I do not want to play Dark Souls, all the Dark Souls series are massively frustrating to play and that’s not something I am interesting in experiencing but I am fascinated with their worlds and want to learn about them [1]After watching the play through I now feel invested in the game and From Software actually get money out of me when they normally wouldn’t as I have bought Dark Souls books and merchandise..
  2. He plays most of his games based on their story and that story is often better than a lot of TV series. To me watching him play is it enjoyable as a series, in fact more so because I can predict most elements of a TV story line (As can most people) but when watching a game there will be surprise elements based purely on his game play over and above the story, the same cannot be said of TV.

All this has meant that I am now a Patron supporter of his channel and treat the news of him going full time with great delight, his channel is by far the one I watch the most and at the current quality I see no reason to change that in the future. 🙂

References

References
1 After watching the play through I now feel invested in the game and From Software actually get money out of me when they normally wouldn’t as I have bought Dark Souls books and merchandise.

Missing A Conference

Over the last few weeks my social media stream has been filled with pictures and memories of times gone by for Lotusphere/Connect, these memories have been more than a little bit painful as they were all great times, a meeting time for great friends as well as for a community spirit that I’ve never met in any other technology, not Salesforce, nor Java, node or MongoDB,

This community still does exist even though it has shrunk over the last couple of years, however there is hope that with the recent changes and the hopeful reinvigoration by IBM/HCL as well as the constant work of such core community leaders of Gabriella Davis that it will return and maybe even grow, having basically opted out of the community for the last year or so through a mixture of client demands and ever-increasing work load, I am now reminded by these pictures and memories how important such a community is and not just to work and to business but to friendship and general sanity,

Long live the yellow bubble!!!

 

⇑ My First Lotusphere, young fresh-faced and not fat



⇑ Presenting for the first time at Lotusphere

⇑ On the Piss with good friends

⇑ The famous “all bloggers” photo

A Year In Review 2017

So here comes the year in review blog postI think it’s fair to say that I’ve never had a year that’s been so head down teeth gritted

Most of what would be considered the fluff or interesting things that you do in a year has been missing entirely, no conferences, no training courses, no anything other than client work. that is not to say I haven’t done new things, each week, each month seems filled with new technology, new things to code, new things to learn but it’s all been work that has to be delivered, work that has to be produced on time.

This resulted in the company itself doing well and thanks to that I’m in a better position then I think I’ve ever been before, a state that is all for the good because what with Brexit happening soon, UK companies now face an uncertain future so using the next two years to prepare for that is something that is going to be really important

Looking forward to the coming year it looks as if I have finally reached a point in my career progression where I do not have a major on-site client, all of my work can be done remotely which is a goal I’ve been aiming for some time but it’s still a little bit stunning to finally reach it, it will mean I need even more focus in how I work and that will give me a couple of extra blog posts as I formalise the way I behave on a day to day basis but I finally have the flexibility I’ve been after.

It’s always good to look back in the year and try and update your CV, what are you an expert in? what can you sell yourself as? what you are aiming for going forward?
To be frank, knowing technology by rote plays less and less a part of what I provide my clients (both LDC and None LDC).

What I’m good at is learning new[1]And by “New” I just mean new to me. things, in adapting and providing clients with what they want when they want, the stuff that I’ve been hired to do going forward this year and stuff that I’ve been doing for the last 8 months at least hasn’t really been solely technologically orientated no one has said “oh are you an expert in x” they have just hired me to solve a problem, to make an issue go away, how that is done has been irrelevant or has already been set in stone by corporate decision.

However, I wouldn’t be me unless I still loved new technology and rolled in it like freshly cut grass.

  1. Javascript frameworks: Javascript is still the internet darling it has been for the last couple of years, but the frameworks come so fast that I now just poke my nose in each one that passes to see if it does anything groundbreaking or if it genuinely replaces one I am currently using.
  2. Networks and encryption: This has been an odd one to go back to and get up to date with, so many of the solutions I have had to provide this year have not been code related, or rather code has not been the best way to solve the problem, hardware and network performance issues don’t just go away with platform as a service if anything they get more complex as they are not as transparent.
  3. Salesforce offshoots: Salesforce continues to keep buying things and integrating them into their ecosystem so things like AMPScript have become commonplace.

But there have been losses and this year I lost my IBM champion status, there was the brief pang of “Bugger”, but writing this I can’t say I disagree with the decision, I did no conferences this year[2]LotusSphere/IBM Connect/IBM Think was in direct conflict with a client delivery, I’m not travelling to the US unless I have to for personal reasons so that cuts out the regional US conferences, … Continue reading, and thus no speaking gigs, this blog was very quiet on the IBM front, and all the stuff I did for IBM was behind the scenes at client sites and a Champion really does have to be seen …. C’est la vie

2018

What do I think I will be doing in 2018?

  1. Practical Cloud – The cloud has changed so many things and made them better, but in some ways we have gone backwards and there is a lot of work in such regressions, for example, inter-machine network speed that had reached really rather fast rates on internal networks has suddenly tanked when it is measured between existing onside stuff and new cloud services.
  2. Hard Decisions – Over the last year, I have seen a growing trend of business actually having the budget and gritting their teeth over modernizing apps that have been around for 10+ years.
  3. Security – Even things that have been trusted for years have failed in the last 12 months, and while there are lots of security people around that will load up your network and apps with new standards and firewalls, there does not seem to be anyone that is willing to fix the trashed performance when the heavy boots of the security forces have been in and done their work.

I suspect quite a lot of my year will be spent using both new and old tech to get things working again after someone has enacted the latest company edict……. 🙂

References

References
1 And by “New” I just mean new to me.
2 LotusSphere/IBM Connect/IBM Think was in direct conflict with a client delivery, I’m not travelling to the US unless I have to for personal reasons so that cuts out the regional US conferences, UKICON was cancelled and I screwed up my passport for Engage

Cold Brewed Coffee



I must first apologise for the lack of technical blogs recently, but real life has interesting bits in it at the moment.

As I mentioned earlier this year, life has been utter chaos and I have been drinking more and more caffeinated soft drinks. When I started seeing a litre’s-worth of cans on my desk each day, I decided it might not be as healthy as I might like — and it was costing a fortune too, so cold coffee it is!! I have tried cold coffee before and it tastes… well like coffee you have made then put in fridge. It has a nasty bitter aftertaste: perhaps I was just making it wrong?

Turns out there is this thing called “cold-brewed coffee.” I’ve had seen it online obviously, and it’s typically made in £40+ Kickstarter coffee pots then served in handcrafted mason jars… Meh. I dismissed as an over-priced fad.

Thankfully it turns out that large parts of the world have been making it for ages, and I could get a Japanese single litre glass pot that fits in the fridge door for a far more sane £17.

It turns out that pre-ground coffee is not suitable, after a period of suspicion I discovered that this is indeed correct: you get a lot of grit at the bottom of the pot with pre-ground coffee, <sigh> so how much is a fecking coffee grinder? Well about £9.50, and approximately 10 minutes of one’s time to prep. enough coffee for the week. That is bearable (ohh and un-ground coffee is a bit cheaper that ground, on a brand-by-brand basis). Sold!

You are supposed to use filtered water AS WELL (this is starting to sound like stone soup). Well, I drink London water so I can see their point there,. “But I’m not buying a water filter!” says I… Hang on, didn’t we get one when they had one of those “buy one cartridge get 10 free + plus the jug” deals a while back? <rummages in a back cupboard> Bingo! OK, we have filtered water. For more filters, Robert Dyas always has sales on.

Let’s finally make the stuff. It seems you use 80 grams of rough ground coffee for a litre (8 normal coffee spoons), pouring the water slowly over the coffee in a spiral just like with a normal filter coffee. Give it a good stir and pop it in the fridge for at least eight hours before attempting to drink (I have found a simple 24 hours works best). I wash out the filter and make the next batch as I put today’s in the thermos.

I normally have my coffee with lots of sugar and milk but found I did not need the milk at all as the coffee is far less bitter. The sugar on the other hand was a small pain as it obviously does not dissolve well in cold coffee, so I now make a batch of sugar syrup and keep it in the fridge with the coffee. I make the syrup like so:

Sugar syrup

  1. Put 1 cup of water in a pan.
  2. Add 1 cup of sugar
  3. Bring to boil while stirring until all the sugar has dissolved (it will go clear).
  4. Take straight off the stove as soon as it boils, cool it then bung it in the fridge.

Apparently sugar syrup lasts up to a month in the fridge so there is no worry there.

How does it all taste after this faff? It tastes really, really good — clean and fresh and just what I wanted as a replacement to an energy soda. Obviously you need to use a thermos to keep it cool. I use Chillys water bottles which work perfectly. Whilst I was initially worried about the coffee tainting the water bottle so I would no longer be able to use it for normal water, turns out the cold coffee doesn’t seem to do that as much as hot coffee. Even if there was some taint, a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda filled up with water overnight seems to remove any remaining taste.

Total costs:

Equipment

Coffee filter: £17

Coffee Grinder: £9

Water Filter Jug: £20 (I already had one)

Thermos or Chillys water bottle: £20 (I already had one)

total: £56

Running Costs

Coffee: A 1kg pack of good coffee beans costs about £13, 1 litre of coffee takes 80g, so a week is about a fiver.

Water Filters: £36 for 12 months (according to Robert Dyas) so a week is less than a pound.

Sugar: I go through 2 cups of sugar a week, i.e. 400 grams, so about 25 pence

total per week: £6.41 (let’s say £6.50 with a bit for electricity and water)

Conclusion Energy drinks were costing me £4 – £5 per day, so we are onto a winner after about 3.5 weeks. Nice!

An added benefit, that appeared later, is that too many soft drinks were making me cough! I had a nagging and persistent cough for about 6 months, and just thought it was a left-over from a chest infection, and that I would deal with it when I had time. Turns out a week after I moved to cold-brewed coffee it just packed in. When I switched back to soft drinks for a few days it returned. Well OK then: coffee is here to stay.

Coming Up For Air

Well that was a hell of a first quarter, a crazy mix of stuff that all HAD to be done, just surfacing on the Easter weekend

so what did I miss:

Connect 2017

First year in what seems forever that I was not pounding off to the US in Jan for the yearly pep conference on all that is IBM, alas a thousand things conspired to stop me this year but mainly just too many client deliverables to take the time off, though it seemed I got on the big screen.




From what I could see from other peoples blogs the conference was a good one, and that we are finally shaking off the older stale parts of what we do and getting on with the new stuff.

what with UKLug/ICON not being on this year looks like my only conference will be Engage, where I will be speaking, this years dodgy session is: “Choose your own adventure: Update/Convert/Replace” at 13:30 on Tuesday in Room C (Gorilla 3).

IBM Champion stuff

Not spent any time in the chat and even missed the yearly swag frenzy (but thanks to Amanda she is going to bring me some stuff over), but I have been doing lots of IBM champion things in that I have been upgrading a variety of IBM tech as well as integrating it with other modern stuff, just not been very visible.

Qualifications

Hmmm I was supposed have got a s**t load of Salesforce qualifications by now, I have had opportunity enough, free training (thanks to bluewave) and what not, but still spend all my time DOING stuff rather than learning stuff, must MUST get a grip on that. also on the radar is docker and the other platform support bits we are looking at for LDC Via

 

On the plus side I have solved a huge number of client crises in these last few months and made a number of clients very happy, so that is a excellent thing 🙂

Onwards!

A Year In Review 2016

Time for the annual year in review blog post! This year has just about everything in it, everything apart from peace and quiet. A huge diversity of work and skill-sets, from Salesforce to Sametime, from AngularJS to admin work on SAML, so much so that my tiny mind is bulging at the seams.

My Salesforce skills have come on leaps and bounds: it is an interesting platform, with a lot of opportunity for the clever hacking I enjoy so much. I must give Bluewave a huge thank you for letting me work with it (Salesforce is very partner-oriented, with little place for true freelancers) and most particularly Barry Hughes, the most patient guru who also lets me sit in on internal training sessions despite having finished my full-time work (with Bluewave’s permission I might add).[1]I was there as a contractor to help take deal with a sudden heavy load, they have now hired permanent staff, but still treat me as part of the team and I’m there if they hit another peak.

For the first time ever, I have a proper office rather than simply relying on client sites or my home workspace: my rented office is at Purple Patch, and it has proved to be just perfect. I can get tons done, and it’s also somewhere to meet, and work, with clients.

LDC Via has had a busy year with booths at multiple conferences and loads of changes and new features based on client feedback and installations. We even launched a whole new offering: KEEP.WORKS.

What skills have I used this year?

Salesforce –> The full range of Salesforce app building, from standard declarative coding to involved, large chunks of Apex and Javascript programming. I also spent loads of time training people on Pardot, working with this very “defined” marketing framework to flex it in a way clients actually want it to function.

JavaScript –> The continuing growth of JavaScript as a primary language for projects showed up a lot this year, in everything from AngularJS to Salesforce Lightning.

Proper Programming –> Java is still my core “serious” language. I’m using it enough to keep things sharp, but it’s not a growth area.

Supplementary stuff –> full on iCal work[2]Including requests to Google and other web email vendors for native buttons and drag-and-drop meetings, etc., etc., search integration with Solr and Nintex for Sharepoint stuck out this year.

IBM –> Sametime, Domino, WebSphere, ISeries and the other staples of the IBM family continue to test my imagination with integration and upgrade work, ensuring everything stays up-to-date and relevant.

Guesses for 2017

Two big items to guess about here:

Skills

JavaScript – this will continue to grow for me, driven by multiple things:

  1. LDC Via and its extensive use of node.js.
  2. Salesforce Lightning – the direction in which Salesforce are clearly steering.
  3. For Domino-based web work, a JavaScript framework talking to Domino services turns out to beat XPages hands down every time.
  4. Lots of clients want to “glue” existing systems to third-party APIs.

Salesforce – I’m less sure about this. The model favours a race to the bottom, which is already starting to show. The company is also incredibly partner-oriented which means it’s hard for smaller companies and individuals to find work. I will just have to keep the skills sharp and see what happens.

Work Load

Bugger knows, this year has been busy, but it’s been in fits and starts[3]or even ‘Stits and Farts’, such is the joy of freelancing. I had a couple of quiet spots and a couple of periods of full-on mayhem. For 2017, I’m hoping to avoid the two things that make we want to scream: (1) the sudden cessation of all work, followed by a couple of stunned weeks looking around, and (2) the conversation with someone later on that year who says “I would have asked you, but you always seem so busy…”

OK, that is enough of the fluffy blog posts for a while. Next up: proper tech stuff!

References

References
1 I was there as a contractor to help take deal with a sudden heavy load, they have now hired permanent staff, but still treat me as part of the team and I’m there if they hit another peak.
2 Including requests to Google and other web email vendors for native buttons and drag-and-drop meetings, etc., etc.
3 or even ‘Stits and Farts’

Current Android Software 2015

This is more an aide memoire than anything else (in case of a phone rebuild), but it is the list of essential software I have on my phone at the end of 2015


Audio/Media

DI Radio

Audible

Google Play Music (so much better than Spotify for play lists and radio)

Dog Catcher (for podcasts)

MX Player

Music Folder Player Full (the only decent player for displaying audio as it is laid out in the filesystem)

BBC Iplayer Radio


Productivity

Clockwork Tomato (The Best timer for the Pomodoro Technique)

Power Nap

Freshbooks

Wunderlist

Timely


Communication

Slack (a truly amazing team chat)

Skype

Twitter (The stock version is actually the best)

Facebook (Unfortunately)

Go To Meeting

IBM Verse


System

Dropsync

File Explorer

1 Password

Disk Usage

Swiftkey


Games
(I tend to not play games on my phone as I have a Nvidia Shield Tablet)

mahjong

Chess

Sorcery 1 (or any choose your own adventure game)

Gemini rue


Misc

National Rail Enquiries

Speedtest.net

Sworkit pro

Moovit (best for London bus times)

Priority Pass

Plus mobile banking and mobile ISP provider’s app.

Adventures in Japan 2015: Conclusion

I sit here at the end of my first proper holiday in nearly a decade, my long awaited honeymoon and a trip to a place that has literally been the land of the rising sun for my entertainment since I have been a child.

and what did I think of it?

 

Japan did not disappoint in any way, the culture, the people, the city’s, everything lived up to my dreams

I could have wandered forever through the country and indeed never have I more wanted to pack up a ruck sack and travel as I did after seeing the green of my first bamboo forest.

The Japanese have taken so much of the west to their heart, but they have made it brighter and more Kawaii and in doing so have made it theirs, all the time maintaining their own gorgeous traditional culture.

Some of the things that made Japan so amazing could only exist in Japan as frankly we in the west sometimes just cant have nice things as we demand our right to screw them up, and thus we cant do crowding without pushing or have clean trains that don’t stink, I’m aware that I might find it hard to live with some of the rigged social normals the Japanese do, but its still a wonderful country.

We WILL go back

 

Adventures in Japan 2015: Food

I approached Japan with some trepidation food-wise as I can’t read the language and also fish stock tends to be put in to a huge amount of the savoury things. However it seems that it is not hard at all to find stuff, and in the major cities there is a real vegetarian/vegan movement (they have meetings and get-togethers and all sorts)

The best app for finding good places to eat was Happy Cow which found all the places to eat we could want. Although you do have to apply a bit of sanity to its directions as they are not allways right

Japanese restaurants and places you sit down to eat in tend to shut down between about 4:30pm and 5.30pm and those that do not tend to run a much reduced menu so that is something to be aware off.

Vending machines serve nearly all your drink needs be it a morning coffee or a full bottle of whiskey and all at a good price (starting at 100yen), nearly everything else is handled by the Family Mart chain of stores, Family Mart is also where you will find the cash machines.



Curry and great ramen at T’s TanTan Tokyostation hidden inside Tokyo station meaning finding it the first time is a bugger and you can’t get to it for free as its behind the ticket barriers, but well worth a diversion or to plan your travel round.



With a rich tangy taste I ended up having 2 of these at one sitting and the memory still makes me drool. found at http://www.hanada-rosso.net/



At the time this had to have been the best vegan pudding I have ever had, and would give most none vegan puddings a run for their money found at Cafe Atl in Osaka (a very nice place if a bit pricey )



Also at Cafe Atl A light pleasant orange flavoured beer went down very nicely thank you



The best place we went in Osaka was Paprika Shokudo which not only serves amazing food and puddings to die for, but were chatty and helpful with suggestions on other places to eat along our travels, I could have eaten there every day!!. They served the greatest pudding I have had since becoming a Vegan, but I did need a lie down after wards



Armed with only a vegan food festival, a local store and a box of preparation I was able to make a sandwich. is there no limit to the genius




Double bite sized pockets of Tofu stuffed with sweet plain rice with some ginger on the side were my default snack and could be got at just about every corner store



There ARE supermarkets in the cities just a bit harder to find that you would expect, we seemed to find them on the top floor of other buildings or department stores.



These slabs of fluffy tofu have a very similar texture to omelets (and you do have to be careful as there are pre done omelets in the shops) they make great fillers for bread or anything really and can be got from just about any shop (we made a lot of sandwiches with them)



Vending Machine with Whisky and Sake in them, not vandalised! NOT VANDALISED!!

Vending machine on every corner and unlike UK ones NOT a rip off

References

References
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Adventures in Japan 2015: Osaka / Kyoto

Osaka is WAYYY better than Tokyo from my point of view. Tokyo is like a massive London but with cultural differences, Osaka was like nothing I had ever been to before, it felt like a different country (yeah yeah I know it already was a different county, but Osaka FELT different). As a child of Skegness I have always loved cheap neon and that gaudy fun feel, and this was everything I could have wanted, busy like a festival but not pushy or filled with drunk idiots or thieves, it was an utter joy to wander round.

Kyoto on the other hand was pure history and culture (plus all the tourist trappings that always surrounds such things) and as the two cities are only a short trip between each other they are a good to compare as a set.



Like you hope it a Japanese city will be

Every shop and stall was dressed up to the nines and fun to look at



Normally in a western country this many people would be nasty grumpy and pushy, here there was no indication of that, people were aware of those around them and did not hold up traffic, made the whole experience better for all.

God I miss the bright vibrant Arcades of my youth, it was like coming home

The Tsūtenkaku Tower a well know land mark which helped with the chaotic navigation of Osaka



A REAL Bamboo forest, just sat there errrr… Growing



Behind this door were two of my personal bucket list items, an amazing traditional Japanese garden off a tradition veranda, and a Nightingale floor but alas no photos inside, you can see details about them here



Reading up on what went into the architectural marvels that were the Japanese Pagodas was amazing. part building, part art form, part ritual

You could image a small god living here

 

Panoramic of the Gardens at Daigoji Temple, Japan put on a perfect day for us with few people around and no queues to wait for anything (happy sigh). Note: the pop-up image for this may take a while to load as its 8Meg

We decided that a trip to the fun Fushimi Inari Shrine was in order as it is one of the really popular temples attracting millions of visitors a year



The Foxes that guard the template and act as messengers all look more than a little p**sed (understandable as everybody is always asking them for money)



That is a 4k hike over the mounting that you are looking at, priests are fit devils here.



The Torii or Gates start here



And Just keep going!!!



Companies buy them (Inari is seen as the patron of business) but they are NOT cheap

References

References
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