Sunday, 15 June 2014

Five Elements Beta Release!

Every day when I have come back from work I have found either a bouncing Matte holding out his phone saying "Look at this! Look at this new thing I've done!" or a bouncing Matte saying "I've pushed a new version. Can you download and test it?"

Our former agreement that demo-days were to be Thursdays flew out the window as every day became demo-day. But now, finally, a beta version of Five Elements has now been released! This means Matte can get feedback from more people than just me :-)

Matte has written a guide for those who want to become Beta-testers. Just click the link and follow the guide if you want to become a Beta-Tester:

If you can't see the above, a direct link can be found here.

I've taken a few screenshots of Five Elements to show off the game design - but mainly to show off my high-score. I've had a few weeks to play this game, and so far I am second-best in the world at this game!

Five Elements - New Game

Five Elements - Game Play

Five Elements - End GameFive Elements - Highscores

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Wilful Ignorance

I have just finished binge-watching the first season of Mr Selfridge. It made me take out my old history books and look at the past events in a new light.

I am an advocate of change through talk. That when people understand the issues, they will agree and change and progress will happen. The naivety of this is not lost on me. But there is special point that I want to mention.

Approach anyone with a subject that you are passionate about and that needs change. Be it immigration, EU-election, equality or the environment. Watch how they will listen and squirm. Wishing they were elsewhere. Wishing the subject could change to something safer, such as the lovely new curtains that are hanging behind you.
Or it becomes the other reaction.
"Yes, I agree." and then the shrug. The dreaded shrug. Showing s/he does not believe there is anything I can do. So there is no point in trying or even talking about it.

Where is the debate? Where is the "but what if we did..." ? Where is the "Have you talked with..."? Where is the engagement?
When did the struggle:

turn in to passive acceptance?

Wilful Blindness. Or Wilful Ignorance. I prefer the wording wilful ignorance. The act of intentionally ignoring facts to avoid making undesirable decisions. I see this everywhere. I do it. It is a survival trait.

How can you feel passionate about equality when you need to check up the game score you know will be discussed at the coffee break at work tomorrow and you do not want to be left out. How could you find time to discuss immigrant issues when you have to make sure your house is presentable? I don't have time to recycle, I need to watch latest season of...

I turn to TED, and particularly Margaret Heffernan to put to words what I cannot

"The really important thing about Gayla is she is ordinary. She's like you, and she's like me. She had freedom, and she was ready to use it" - Margaret Heffernan

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Progress of Five Elements

When most people buy a dining-room table, the idea is to have a lovely place to sit with visitors and socialize. That was also our idea when we bought our table last summer. This has not become our reality. Since May our table looks like this:

The reason? Matte is spending every Tuesday and Thursday working on mobile game app development. Four weeks of this has brought the first results! An alpha version of Five Elements is now uploaded and being tested:

Being one of the stakeholders, I have the privilege of being one of the testers. I am impressed. The game has a good structure and is technically very stable. Matte's single-worker adaptation of the SCRUM framework has ensured deliverance of a shippable product after just four days and an alpha version within eight.

Just a few more days and it will be available for the public! Matte is of course loving the fact that he gets to program all day long:

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Why not? Because it's freaking me out! + some Downtonomics

Sooo, I just wanted to share a quick film clip that I enjoyed. Brings back lovely memories of my modern geometry course...

And here is a link to the economics of Downton Abbey.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Why Self-Censorship?

When I write, I write about things that interest's me and what is on my mind at the moment.
Lately I have had my mind full of work and some pretty awesome development that is going on there. The problem is that when I signed my contract of employment it stated, in short, that I am not allowed to reveal company secrets.

What are and what are not company secrets can be discussed but the main issue here is that there is now another filter that I subconsciously think about when I write. And this brought up another subject that interests me - self-censorship.

Self-censorship on Facebook

A few weeks ago while I was browsing, I stumbled across a research paper concerning self-censorship on Facebook. The focus in this paper was on last-minute self-censorship. That is to say when you start writing in the status bar on Facebook, but then decide not to post it. It was published by Facebook themselves (a list of their publications can be found here) and is, as they mention themselves, an exploratory work where the focus is mainly demographic and evaluating basic assumptions. But there is one of the results that I found was especially interesting:

Snapshot from the results section in "Self-Censorship on Facebook"
This correlation between diverse friends and self-censorship was not fully in-line with the original hypothesis that the researchers had. It is not clear which ones causes the other - Do people who self-censor less have a higher tendency of befriending diverse friends or do people who have a diverse friend-base, self-censor less? Either way it is an interesting correlation that I hope more research will be done on.

Personal self-censorship

I am a person that uses social media avidly, maybe because of sheer relief. It is not that I do not know the dangers of gossip and social media. I grew up in an environment where the police would circle our apartment block weekly to check up on the area. It was always assumed that whatever we said to our neighbours it would always find it's way to the police. Once while I was out walking our dog I was brought in to the police station by a friendly policeman and questioned by two-three policemen about my family and life and my parent's work. I was twelve.
My parents were always clear to both my sister and I that it was important to think through what we said. We were always asked to think about how it would be perceived by people who don't go to church, haven't lived in another country or gone to school.

Artwork by Askin Ayrancioglu, faced a lawsuit because the art was objectionable.

This type of lifestyle bred self-censorship like nothing else ever could. Once I got my fingers on blogging and social media it was a  relief to me. I could write down my thoughts first and be able to view them afterwards and censor at will before it was visible to everyone. I could take time thinking about what I wanted to share instead of not being able to share anything due to the time-constraint.

Self-censorship at the workplace

In my own experience self-censorship is most prominent in the work environment. I hadn't realised how much I subconsciously self-censor until I had a longer period where my main social interaction had been with my colleagues. The relief of being "myself" when I was with my friends surprised me because I had not been aware that I had been doing anything differently. It made me think back to the different work places I have been at and the level of work-related self-censorship that is noticeable.

Why do we self-censor at work? Apart from the usual reasons to self-censoring it seems we have more to lose making it more important to be careful.

George Orwell's essay on "Politics and the English Language" written in 1946 touches on one of the reasons to self-censorships at the workplace when he writes:
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity."
Each individual at a workplace have their own incentives and goals. These do not always align 100% with the goals of a company, even though good company management will do their best to build a company structure that aligns them as much as possible. It is therefore important for the individual to be careful of what they say as saying the wrong thing may disrupt the individual's goal.

The second reason I think has to do with communication. When it comes to language and culture, the workplace is a very static place, compared to "the real world" of friends and social media. It is harder for companies to adapt to new cultural and language innuendos usually because change is expensive for a company.

 Due to this static state there will arise differences to how people communicate with each other at work compared with how they communicate outside. 

A simple example of this difference is just the way communication has moved from email to other systems. Using email is a rare occurrence with my friends as I will use tools such as chat, Dropbox and document sharing programs which I would find more efficient. This switch means that my communication would be more about updates. 
I will write a short chat update saying "Filled in the document" and as everyone has access to the same document and are able to see what changes I have done, writing anything else in the chat would be in excess and seen as a nuisance as people get the chat message straight away and just want an update so they know what's happening.
Compare this to an email where it would be important to introduce the reason to writing, to whom it concerns, state the changes that have been made and specify on how to proceed and where the latest document has been saved. It is more important here to get a summary of everything than when receiving a chat message.

This difference in communication ways make you unsure of what will be understood in the correct way. The uncertainty of whether everyone has watched the latest funny video on Youtube makes you careful with making a reference to it. Not being sure if the boss understands the latest modern word, you will go with wording it in a more traditional fashion.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

January's highlights

Well, I've managed to keep my New Year's resolution so far!

One month with plenty of things happening.Some highlights:
  • Started writing articles for - can be found here.
  • At work we have started working with the agile framework SCRUM. I've been reading up about this and I find it is a great way to work when it comes to development. The best source that I found that explained things clearly was CollabNet's  free e-learning courses.
  • Been reading loads of books on my e-bookreader. I am so glad that I finally got one! It is so easy to use and carry. No more paper books for me. I can even use it for education books. The ebookreader has not only a dictionary function to look up words you don't understand, but also wikipedia search! All you do is press on the word you want to know more about and up pops a message box wit hthe dictionary definition and wikipedia summary.
  • Playing Minecraft mods like crazy - Yes, I have spent plenty of hours playing Minecraft but what has been the focus of my attention lately has been mods like Yogbox, Hexxit and Tekkit. My favourite is YogBox but it is unfortunately a bit buggy and they have stopped developing it :(
  • Finally had dinner at B's place. Haven't seen his place since we helped him move and it is really looking nice. Am awaiting the moving in party
  • Went to Södertälje and visited one of Matte's colleague. I really enjoyed that, meeting the family and just talking!
I laughed way too much at this SMBC comic:

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year in the woods

No access to a computer so posting from my phone in the middle of the woods. New Year's resolution - I will not move this year!
Happy New Year!
New Year's Eve Dinner

Role Playing

Fire! It's so cosy!