The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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10:08am on Sunday, 2nd August, 2015:

Political Point


I can't believe that this juxtaposition of photos accompanying articles on the BBC news web site isn't an accident:

Clinton looks as if she's snitching on Merkel, and Merkel looks as if she knows she's got away with it.


11:11am on Saturday, 1st August, 2015:



When we were in St Petersburg, we bought these Christmas tree ornaments:

I have no idea why the Easter bunny is in there.


10:04am on Friday, 31st July, 2015:



We brought these chocolates home from Estonia:

The blue arrow is pointing at an example of the actual chocolates, which I placed alongside the ones in the picture for comparison.

Estonian confectionary follows the usual EU regulations regarding disappointment.


1:18pm on Thursday, 30th July, 2015:

Wrong Way


I used to drive home from work the same way every day. However, a few months ago one of the roads I used to use was turned into a bus/taxi lane, so I had to stop using it.

Today, I used it. It was entirely by accident — one of those "why did I write the date for last year when it's already April of this year?" moments — and I only realised I'd done it once I was on the roundabout after it.

Oh well, if there was a camera taking pictures of violations, I'll have to take my punishment. The annoying thing is, this in no way would stop me from accidentally making the same mistake again a few months from now.


7:39pm on Wednesday, 29th July, 2015:



A little work and I'm ready to take my place back in society:


3:38pm on Wednesday, 29th July, 2015:

Before and After


I had the operation on my lower right eyelid today, to have the cyst removed (only three months after it should have been removed). It turned out that a lot of the lump was scar tissue from when it was the size of a cheery, but the surgeon did find some nasty stuff in it and took a biopsy.

I was admitted at 10am, but was last in the queue: I didn't go into the operating theatre until 12:45. Anticipating this, I brought a book to read. Unfortunately, other patients hadn't anticipated it and wer chatting loudly to one another.

Anyway, apart from some drops and ointment I have to start using tomorrow, I should be fine now.

Here's the before and after shot:

Maybe I should take another one once the bandage comes off...


3:43pm on Tuesday, 28th July, 2015:



I saw this cloud over our village:

What do you think? Stark or Lannister?


4:26pm on Monday, 27th July, 2015:



I finally snapped and bought some noise-cancelling headphones so I can work when my father-in-law wants to watch Bargain Hunt and anyone else wants to watch whatever they've recorded from the SyFy channel. I specifically didn't want wireless, because there's some kind of interference I get on the audio from wireless headsets in my office. I'd have preferred over-ear rather than on-ear, but I couldn't find any that were reasonably-priced. I'd have also liked them to be powered from my PC through a USB interface or something, so I wouldn't have to keep buying AAA batteries, but it doesn't seem such headphones exist.

I went for Sony MDR-ZX110NA Overhead Noise Cancelling Headphones - Black, because they weren't expensive and the reviews were good.


There's a definite difference between when I have the noise cancellation switched on and when I don't, but in the end the main way of escaping the distraction is how loud the music I play through the headphones is, not whatever noise cancellation it's doing.


10:33am on Sunday, 26th July, 2015:



This 18-inch-wide headline appeared in today's Observer above a piece about teaching people to program:

Well if nothing else, it shows that newspaper sub-editors number among those who can't program.


11:48am on Saturday, 25th July, 2015:



I had a go with Google's Deep Dream system recently:

Well that wasn't quite what I'd hoped for.


3:58pm on Friday, 24th July, 2015:

Typeface Time


For the past several years, I've been gradually putting together another MMO book. It consists of over a thousand articles, ranging from a paragraph to a page in length. Once I had all the articles, I formatted them, connected them in threads, put them in order and have today finished laying them out.

Unfortunately, the document template I started using in 2007 isn't one that's used by the main publishers today. This means I'll have to redesign it all. On the one hand that's bad because it's work, but on the other it means I can make the book's look reflect its content better. When I started out, I went with a sans-serif font (Verdana, but it was just a place-holder); this was because I didn't want people to sit down and read the whole book in one sitting, but to take it a few bites at a time so they could digest it. As sans-serif fonts are harder to read for extended periods, that family of typefaces was just the ticket.

However, the book is actually way too long to read in one sitting anyway, and by overlapping the threads there's a "just one more page" feel to it that I'd like to encourage. Also, the content doesn't feel sans-serif now that I've assembled it. I'm therefore going to use this redesign opportunity to change the typeface.

The question is, what typeface shall I use instead?

The main inspiration for the book is Computer Lib/Dream Machines. I'm hoping to capture for MMOs the kind of lookit-how-wondrous-these-things-are feel that Computer Lib/Dream Machines engendered about computers in the 1970s. As MUD also hails from the 1970s, I want a serif font that hearks back to those days yet which is readable for page after page after page.

The one I've chose is Souvenir. It looks the part and has the right kind of feel for the personality of the book. It also takes up about the same amount of space as Verdana, so I won't have to do much editing up or down to make the pages fit. However, I am aware that some people hate Souvenir with the same passion as they do Comic Sans and Papyrus.

If you're one of those people, do you have any suggestions for a better 1970s-reminiscent serif font that's readable at 10 points?


3:23pm on Thursday, 23rd July, 2015:

Want, Waste Not


I've had these for for maybe 20 years, having bought them at GenCon in the mid-1990s:

I've resisted using them, as I didn't want to waste them. As a result, I may as well have not bought them at all...


11:44pm on Wednesday, 22nd July, 2015:



Almost since its founding 50 years ago, the University of Essex has lacked for two things: a railway station and a swimming pool. Every new vice-chancellor looks into getting one or both, but so far it's come to nothing.

Now, however, it seems we might be getting a 50m (164ft) swimming pool. That sounds great, as 50m is Olympic-sized.

Wellll, not this one. This one is 50m deep, not 50m long.

Oh, Essex...


10:35am on Wednesday, 22nd July, 2015:

Been There


The map of European countries I've visited looks much more impressive since last week:


1:53pm on Tuesday, 21st July, 2015:

Ambidextrous Research


I had an hour-long interview today with an MPhil student who is studying ambidexterity among researchers. I thought I might be useful to him as I am incredibly right-handed, so I agreed to be one of his subjects.

It turned out he was studying people who both teach at the university and do industrial consultancy. This is because "on the one hand" you're an academic and "on the other hand" you're an industry worker. He's in the Business School, and for him "ambidexterity" is a technical term for dividing your time between different employments with different demands.

That's going to be useful to know if anyone asks me to participate in such interviews in future...


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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).