The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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6:47pm on Wednesday, 28th September, 2016:

Chapter VIII


I suspect this reprint of a 1920s book that I'm reading may not have been professionally typeset.


4:51pm on Tuesday, 27th September, 2016:

Monkey Business


I went to Williams & Griffin's in Colchester today, for the first time following its refurbishment (and rebranding as Fenwick). It's a lot swisher than it was before.

Fortunately, some constants have remained.


2:54pm on Monday, 26th September, 2016:

Fitness Tip


I went to the municipal tip today, to dispose of the assorted rubbish that had accumulated in the garage in the pile for things to be taken to the tip. It's always an exciting experience going to the tip, as I never know if the tyres on my car are going to come out unscathed or with something embedded in them (they look happy at the moment, but the big test will be tomorrow morning).

As I walked between the various skips for recycling different objects, I couldn't help but notice that one of the workers (who was leaning against the printer cartridge recycling bin) had a rather one-dimensional vocabulary. He was explaining to a friend how he had managed to lose 2kg of weight in a week by the simple expedient of eating nothing but Actimel yoghurts. Hmm, I suspect he'll lose his entire body weight if he keeps that up for too long. A much better solution for him would be to do a star jump every time he uttered the word "fuck" — he'd soon be fit and trim.

I did have to recycle some printer cartridges myself, from my old printer. My new printer is almost out of Cyan, on account of how my younger daughter printed off pages and pages of pharmacy documents that has an inch-wide band of cyan along the bottom of every page for branding purposes. I imagine they have the same issue at Barclay's Bank.

Hmm, I do hope my wife wanted me to throw out both those pairs of shears. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, the answer is that she didn't.


5:15pm on Sunday, 25th September, 2016:

Out of Date


This is an extract from the Bishop's Transcript of a Parish Record in 1711 (the Parish Record says the same thing, but the Bishop's Transcript is easier to read):

There was a 29th February in 1711?


12:34pm on Saturday, 24th September, 2016:



From this week's Essex County Standard:

I think they should begin their investigations on the planet Arrakis.


5:01pm on Friday, 23rd September, 2016:

Printing Costs


My Samsung CLX-3185SW printer had given me sterling service over the past several years, but the imaging unit needs replacing and a recent driver update took the decision that I merely want to own the printer, not actually print anything with it. I had to wake it up manually every time, and when the scanner stopped talking to my graphics program I couldn't even do that. I decided to replace it.

Now I could have bought a replacement over the Internet, as I was fairly happy with the 3185. The ink cartridges are a bit pricey, though, so I thought I'd see what else was out there. Staples and PC World are only a 3-mile drive away, so off I went.

The buying process took longer than I was expecting.

I wanted a 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 colour printer with a reasonably small footprint that can print a ream of paper without needing a new ink cartridge. This turned out to be a tricky combination. The main issue was the pages-per-cartridge criterion, as most of the printers seem to manage around 350 pages before demanding to be fed with more ink. My 3185 could print 1,500 pages before it complained, and then hundreds more if you ignored said complaints and overruled it (a particularly smart thing to do for colour cartridges, as the slightest smidgeon of colour on a sheet decremented its sheet count for that colour as much as if you'd printed the whole page in it). I did find some printers with 1,000-page cartridges, but I didn't find the cartridges on the shop shelves.

The latest model equivalent to the 3185 was like this. There's something suspect about a printer that isn't sold alongside its cartridges, and I also didn't like the fact that the cartridges looked almost the same as the ones in the 3185 except for not being compatible. OK, so this time I didn't have a stock of cartridges in stock and therefore wasn't going to be annoyed that they wouldn't fit, but I dislike this kind of sneakiness. Also, not having them meant I could look at other manufacturers, too.

All the Canon printers except the big laserprinters were cheap and plasticky. They looked to be meant for student use. I wasn't going to buy one on those grounds, but the fact that they spelled "colour" as "color" on the front of the machine was also a show-stopper. Hewlitt Packard's printers were much better quality, but I've been bitten too badly in the past by the bloatware they insist is installed on my PC to wish to experience that again. Samsung would have been acceptable, but there were surprisingly few machines on offer.

Eventually, I found something that fitted my needs: an Epson WF-3620. It's not as large as the 3185, which is good, and you can get a black ink cartridge for it that lasts 2,200 pages (half that for colour cartridges). I can print on it just fine, and although it's WAI rather than TWAIN I can still scan from my graphics program just fine. It's also able to print double-sided, which the Samsung one wasn't, so I'll save something on paper with it. So far, I'm very pleased with it.

After I got it working, I went through all the software Samsung had installed on my PC over the years and uninstalled it. Unfortunately, one of them remains on my hard drive because my security software didn't like what it was doing and neutered it before it could delete itself.

Also unfortunately, one of the Samsung programs I deleted was the one that lets my PC talk to my mobile phone. I may need to put that one back...


5:55pm on Thursday, 22nd September, 2016:

Blank Slide


I was in London again today to give the keynote presentation at the unaugural User Acquisition Summit (slides here). As my slide on what I know about UA was blank, this was something of a risk, but people did seem to engage with what I was telling them about Player Types (except those who had already heard of them — a not insignificant number, as it happened). The interesting thing from my perspective was that the Player Types model is normally discussed in the context of retention, but here it was in terms of acquisition. I'd therefore be quite keen to know if it works or not.

I was told that I was going to have to present using some kind of cloud-based presentation format. As clouds don't tend to use my favoured fonts, I decided to drop them entirely and only use pictures. I did this once before in Leipzig, and although it's a bit more work than using text it seems to go down quite well with the audience. Re-using some of the Leipzig slides made it less work, too. As it happened, I got to present from my laptop anyway. I should have taken out a bet on that...

By the way, the current amount of money you have to pay to get a user to install your new mobile game is between $3 and $4, with Apple users costing more than Andoid users and American users of either costing more than anyone else.

Best slide of the day was one in a talk about cultural differences between audiences in the west and in the far east: it was Maslow's hierarchy of needs with an extra, super-fundamental need added at the bottom and labled "wi-fi".


4:01pm on Wednesday, 21st September, 2016:

Screen Time


I was somewhat surprised by what I saw when I arrived at work this morning:

These are the doors to the Computer Science department. You can see my reflection in them as I took the photo, but you can also see my face. This is on a screen immediately inside the building, on the wall.

So, it seems a touchsceen computer has been newly-installed there. Someone used it to search for my blog, from there find my web site, and from there find a photo of me from 1997. Anyone going into the building from the time they did that would have been greeted by my face.

A touchscreen with Internet connectivity at the entrance to the Computer Science department where everyone can see it: what could possibly go wrong?

I don't know what did go wrong, but by lunchtime it had been turned off.


4:46pm on Tuesday, 20th September, 2016:



I was in London today to meet a friend visiting from California. We'd agreed to meet after lunch, so I had a posh burger on the way. However, he hadn't actually had lunch because of an earlier meeting. We therefore went to a restaurant where he had lunch and I had a dessert. However, he liked the look of my dessert so much that after he main course he ordered one himself. Not to be left looking out of place, I ordered a second, different dessert.

Oh man, am I stuffed! I thought I could easily put away two desserts, but it seems I can't. I can't see myself eating anything else today, or possibly for the rest of the week.

This isn't the only reason I didn't eat the spider that threw itself into my mouth as I was getting into my car, but it was a contributing factor.


10:08am on Monday, 19th September, 2016:

Early Work


I took my wife to the dentist this morning, and this was on the screen in the waiting room:

I didn't know that there were archaeologists so long ago.


4:27pm on Sunday, 18th September, 2016:



I was up in Yorkshire over the weekend to see my dad. It was a rather unusual visit, as he'd gone to the local cardiovascular hospital to have an echo scan done of his heart and the consultant kept him in. We had to drive over every day in order to see him. It's a rather better hospital than the one we have in Colchester. For a start, it's possible to park in their car park.

On the way back to Essex we went over the Humber Bridge, as it's not far from the hospital. It was a clear day so we were hoping for some spectacular views. Unfortunately, we chose the same day as some kind of run-across-the-Humber-Bridge event, so were moved in by a lane and all we saw were runners.

There was a queue before the bridge, which we were wondering about until an ambulance shot past with its lights and siren going. Probably someone on the run had collapsed.

Lucky for them they weren't all that far from an excellent cardiovascular hospital, then.


5:00pm on Saturday, 17th September, 2016:

Feeding Time


I saw this in a garden centre today:

It's frightening that the term "don't feed the trolls" has been around for long enough that the kind of people who are now of an age to want to buy this kind of thing know what it means.


7:19pm on Friday, 16th September, 2016:



This is on the back the birthday card I'm sending my niece.

An unfortunate choice of typeface, there, I thought.


7:01pm on Thursday, 15th September, 2016:



I suppose it makes sense for some university in the UK to put on this kind of degree, but it's nevertheless weird when you see it.

Mind you, it might have been less weird with a different image.


1:38pm on Wednesday, 14th September, 2016:

Sights of London


I'm in London for half of this week at the annual symposium for the IGGI Doctoral Training Centre of which I am a part (and is now apparently the largest games-and-AI research centre in the world).

We're in London because this year the host university is Goldsmiths, which is in New Cross. When you step off the train, though, it could be anywhere in inner London. My wife lived in Ladbroke Grove for several years and it looks the same there as it does here. So do Islington, Tottenham, Newham, Hoxton, Mile End ... They're all Victorian streets with old family houses split into flats, bolt-on shop fronts, occasional new high-rises, and a perpetual air of seediness. The other two universities that are part of IGGI, Essex and York, are provincial but have pretty towns. Goldsmiths is not provincial and inner London (outside of the West End) isn't pretty. It's hard to tell why millions of people flock to the greatest city in the world given what most of it looks like. Further out in the suburbs it gets more salubrious, but here it's tatty and run-down.

Some random things I saw yesterday:

Very few overweight people. It's not that everyone is skin and bone, they just aren't overweight.

A woman in an evening dress with a tripod camera taking photographs of herself posing like a fashion model in front of buildings. I guess she was a Goldsmiths student. The driver of a passing refuse collection lorry gave her a wolf whistle. I haven't heard anyone give a wolf whistle in 20 years.

Police and ambulance vehicles zooming past with their flashing blue lights on every 10 minutes.

A woman in her late 30s dressed as if she were in her teens, centimetre-long artificial eyelashes, in floods of tears. She had black knees as if she'd been kneeling in soot. I was wondering if I should have asked if she needed help, but she seemed to be under the effects of illegal substances so I didn't.

A buttons shop. How a shop that only sells buttons can survive on a high street in a place as expensive as London is a mystery. Maybe people come from miles around as it's the only button emporium in souh London, or maybe they sell other things under the counter that aren't buttons.

A café with a bong outside, from which people were vaping. It's a recipe for catching germs off people if you ask me...


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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).