Tuesday, 12 August 2014

All time favourite posts

I had a look through my past posts and felt I have to do a recap of the top 3 favourite posts I have written.

Number 3 - Not thinking about your target

I still get annoyed at the Swedish Migration department when I re-read this one. That the Swedish departments can be so narrow-minded that they cannot even think of the simplest help for the people they have contact with.

Number 2 - Feminism - Does it really matter

This was my first post that caused a stir. I have not changed my views and it was definitely interesting to read the comments that came up when posting it on Social media.

Number 1 - Meeting Gaming Misconceptions

This post has been on my most popular post list ever since I published it. I have used the responses when I have received the jabs about gaming with great success.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Not everything is at it seems...

Words are about creating pictures or ideas in other people's heads. When trying to engage other people you will pull from your own experiences and try and describe situations in words that will make sense to the other person.

This can be difficult when two people have not had similar experiences. I remember trying to describe the concept of a library to one of my Turkish friends who had never been outside the town she lived in.

But the problem of incomprehension is not the only obstacle. Words have amazing power and each person will attach experiences, pictures, and even emotions to the words. This is made abundantly clear when speaking with multi-lingual people.Suddenly everyday phrases can take on a whole new dimension when seeing the person's look of surprise, horror or confusion. Some examples:

  • "I went for a lovely long jump last night."
  • Overhearing a teacher shouting "DIE!!" to the students.
  • When an expecting mother who decides to share her news exclaims "I'm embarrassed!"
It doesn't matter how well you know languages, you will always have a stronger connection to a sound in one language than in another. This makes the brain leap to conclusions before it has time to evaluate which language the other person is speaking in. In the above cases:
  • "Spring" is the Swedish word for run. The same word means "jump" or "bounce" in German.
  • "Die" means "Enough" is Hebrew.
  • The word for pregnant in Spanish is "embarazada"
When learning languages you need to spend time working out which pictures/ideas/emotions to connect to the sounds. When there already exists emotions connected to the sounds you are hearing, it becomes harder to break or expand the bonds.

I still smile when I'm driving around Sweden and see the signs below. It's not very helpful as I probably take the speed bumps at a higher speed than I should, having attached a happy emotion instead of a careful emotion to the word.

And for those who are as fascinated by data visualisation as I am, Small World of Words is a cool website showing what word association people have and comparing how it differs to a standard Thesaurus. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Facing a Blank Page

I stare at the blank page that is placed in front of me when I click on "Create new post". Just before I had a multitude of ideas swirling in my head. Thinking that if I just sit down and start writing I'll be able to get some order to them I opened a page. They disappear. And it's not the first time. The feeling of seeing an empty page and the inability to be able to write down what was in your head is depressing to say the least.

I am not talking about writers block. I have constant moments in my everyday life where I'm thinking, "I should write about that" or "that is an interesting topic". But they will hide away when I am placed face first to a page that I am expected to fill.

As I do with all the problems in my life I Google it. Halfway through page two (Yes, I am one of those who will actually look at the second page) I find a blog called "Write to Done" giving a name to this problem. He calls it writer's log jam and I think the name is very appropriate.

My main way of getting out of the jam is to just start writing about what I have done during the day. It almost always leads to tangent subjects that I can then finally get down on paper. I have to agree with Walter Benjamin:
"Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. [...] Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written." - Walter Benjamin
In the day of copy/paste being a couple of keystrokes (or Alt-E-S-V if you're working in Excel) this can seem outdated. But I take it to heart. Actually sitting and typing away words that have already been written or just writing the everyday happenings of your life gives you a focus and releases the fear of the empty page.

Snoopy -Writer's block

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.