Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hello Alexa, Qixels, Simbrix and Sleep

As I type this, it's cold and frosty outside, but warm inside at Aris HQ. I had to take a lot of cardboard boxes to the recycle area, thankfully, it's within the surrounding car park area. I think I was lucky, as there appeared to be enough space to put everything in one bin and spread it out over several. I hurriedly returned back inside to the warmth where a Suchard Hot Chocolate could be made in record time via our Bosch Tassimo! 😁

Christmas Present Haul 2016 ::
This years Christmas Present haul was a small, but bountiful one with a wonderful surprise of the Amazon Echo present from Mrs. A's brother, John. 😊
Alexa, the host speaker for Amazon Echo, can be instructed to do a variety of things, like play your favourite music and radio stations, tell the time, play a news broadcast and she can answer many questions. However, you must try and phrase some questions correctly otherwise she won't understand. There are also commands to control lighting and various other things, but this would depend on compatibility the products and what your home network is. Overall, a very pleasing array of presents my family! Thank you! 😁

Lego :: ( MOC | speed build )
I managed to design two models for December, again using basic Lego bricks. Still my favourite to this day! 😃 One has a surprise addition, even though it's not technically Lego.
If those can remember my Christmas Tree and Santa builds from December 2015, this Tree is quite different, I particulary like the added orange transparent 1x1 flat bricks. It would have been nice to have multicoloured ones, but all the same, it adds a little bit of depth to the design.
I really like this Snowman and simply adore the additional Crocheted Scarf that Mrs. A did for me. It certainly adds an element of cuteness to it. I am wondering now if we will be getting any Snow around Oxfordshire in the latter 2016 or early 2017?

Lego :: ( #015 Lego Ideas / 21306 - Yellow Submarine )
Each year, I try and purchase some Lego for a Christmas Day build. For 2016, I bought the Beatles - Yellow Submarine set.



I really enjoyed the build, which had some interesting techniques and wonderful array of coloured bricks. I also managed to get hold of the Blu-Ray version of the Beatles - Yellow Submarine which is an awesome pairing with this Lego set. Love it! 😊

Amazon Echo ( Alexa ) ::
I briefly mentioned the Amazon Echo earlier and asked her an interesting question, of which the answer was correct and to the point.

Firstly, mentioning her name, Alexa and then the question or instruction will deliver the answer or act on the command. Of course, asking trivial questions could be done using Google, but by simply calling her name in a normal tone to get an answer without the need of being near a computer is pure genius!

GameDev :: ( GameMaker Studio 2 )
Well, I started to code / design a game engine. It is being grouped into Sprites, Objects and Rooms. Plus, any other elements like generic sound effects. The process is really interesting and will also prove to be a time saver in the end.
I have an idea and plan to code a shoot-em up during 2017. It will use elements of the game engine until near the end. Hopefully, time will permit and I will have something for show and tell, even if it is an early build or beta. For the time being, it will be PC based only and maybe at a later date it will be ported to Android.

Puzzle Design Kits :: ( Simbrix and Qixels )
Towards the week up to Christmas, I purchased two art / puzzle design kits. Here is a little insight into each kit and I what designed with them.
 
Simbrix ::
First up, I tested Simbrix. This has a slight puzzle element in which the way you link and place each Simbrix. Now heat, glue or water is required. You can still be creative as every design, definitely promotes imagination.
I puchased Simbrix from Amazon, which was at the time £15 GBP. You can get different sized sets, each one will have a greater amount of Simbrix. In no time at all, you'll be designing straight from imagination or inspired from a character or object around you.
Apart from the initial test models, of : 1-UP, Manic Miner, Pac-Man and an extra life Heart. I thought I'd have a go at designing Thing on a Spring from the 1985 Commodore 64 video game of the same name by Gremlin Graphics ( Gremlin ). You can't help but adore the cuteness of it! 💖

Qixels ::
The approach to Qixels is somewhat similar to Hama Beads. However, you use water to fuse them together rather than heat from an Iron. I purchased Qixels from Argos in the UK for £14.99 GBP, they were out of stock from Amazon with only resellers stocking them for somewhat higher prices.
Again, as a test character design, I used Thing on a Spring. With the little spray bottle provided, you spray your design whilst on the board with plastic template 25 times at approx (1.5 inches / 4 cm) away from the top and leave to dry for 30 minutes or longer, ensuring all Qixel cubes are covered in water. Afterwards, the instructions advise to gently shake excess water and leave on a flat surface. Leaving it to dry for longer and spraying the back of the design if breaks away, would probably be better.
The end result, even after leaving the design to dry over night wasn't too bad. However, when I literally gently peeled poor Thing on a Spring off the plastic template, it was somewhat curved with the texture of rubber. So, I had to leave it under a heavy weight, like a book, to flatten it out. There also appears to be scent of Vinegar given off, this is apparent when handling and even after a final design is finished. The instructions clearly state to wash your hands after handling the Qixels. The design appears to be fairly clean, leaving some slight mess over surface. So, as an experiment, I used an anti-bacterial wipe and this cleaned everything up. It is then better to leave your design to further dry. This may increase the dry time, but it's worth it to give a cleaner surface. Overall, quite a pleasing product. After a bit of practise each and ever process of design will get better and better! 😃

Sleep ::
One of the things I most look forward to when having time off, is to catch up with or maintain a better sleep pattern. During a typical working week, I usually try and have a short sleep after work, only to sleep in at the weekends. Also, having a nap ( sleep ) at the weekend for an hour or two helps recharge during the day, typically in the afternoon. Even though a human isn't some sort of Android-Robot-Humanoid-Synthetic that requires next to no sleep, it really does help. 💤

And finally ...






Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Another Studio, Tassimo and let's go Turkey !

I have appreciated the last few weeks of November by looking forward to some vacation time, usually to help, be with Mrs. A more and celebrate Thanksgiving, but to also get into the pre-festive mood. So, to start, up went the tree and mutter amongst yourselves as December hasn't even arrived yet! :)
We also went food shopping and got some of our food and drink for the holiday period and into the new year. The Nectar points awarded by Sainsbury's on every food shop and petrol purchase helped over the last few months. So, all we need to do is just get the everyday essentials now and we're set.

Lego :: ( MOC | speed build )
Just the one speed build this month, but I should have two suitably themed and ready for December. I thought I would go with the Turkey theme and even though the colour of bricks shows a more well cooked design, it's what I had amongst my existing collection. So, enjoy! :) 

GameDev :: ( GameMaker Studio 2 )
It has been quite a fun and overwhelming month with regards gamedev. I managed to get a beta testing slot for GameMaker Studio 2, which at first, limited slots were only made available, until finally it was open to all. Shortly after this, there was an offer to purchase via an upgrade from GameMaker Studio 1.4 at a introductory price, this worked out to be just under £58 GBP ( inc. VAT ).  The added beauty, is that you will still be able to use 1.4 and 2.0 together. So far, I have been able to import 1.4 projects that have worked 100%. Compatibility scripts are created to make the conversion process even smoother and are easily accessible. I tried UP, a more simpler and Bugsy Reloaded, a more complex project, both worked without a hitch.
The remainder of my current projects in GameMaker Studio 1.4 for Android have been updated with a LibPNG patch which fixed vulnerability issue, even though the apps available on the Google Play Store sat there for around two years without any issues or reports.

I started to do a game engine for GameMaker Studio 2 and this will contain all the elements for shoot'em ups, platformers, puzzle games and other genres. Sprites, Objects and Rooms will be grouped into a specific genre, so when it comes to developing another game or project, I can just copy and paste code. Over the past few years, I have gradually used drag and drop commands less with GameMaker. It is far simplier and quicker to use GML code, but also easier to tweak. The productivity rate is increased using programs like GameMaker and the likes of Unity, Construct and Clickteam Fusion. Infact, coding in any lauguage is good and no matter what you code, bugs will always deliver problems and solutions! :)

App Development :: ( JMBSoft )
A fellow developer and retro gaming friend, Jason has just released a couple of Android apps via the Google Play Store. Bouncing Balls and Very Simple Notes are great first time apps. They are well worth an install and look at. See if you can work up to 300 bouncing balls or assist yourselves with very simple notes.
Bosch Tassimo Vivy ::
Even before the Black Friday, but let's start Thursday or even before deals started. I decided to buy a Tassimo Vivy from Amazon UK for only £33 GBP. Of course, some beverage pods were purchased as I well and the only downside is, that you don't get any free samples to get started with. That aside, it is quicker than boiling a Kettle at only 1300 watt, against some using upto 2000 watt.
 
 And finally ...



 
 


Saturday, October 29, 2016

More Clicking, Bricking and Barriers !

Here's October again and those autumn leaves have been doing themselves proud falling from the trees everso gracefully at times. The gentle winds that pick them up off the floor are also a pleasant to see! If you haven't of guessed it, I quite like autumn, especially when it has just left summer!

I managed to get a few things working this month and a number of projects completed. It's always nice to move onto newer projects, especially when some haven't seemed to move much or might have appeared to be abandoned.

Lego :: ( MOC | speed build ) 
This month we have a nice bunch of spOOky speed builds for you. They are all based around Halloween I guess, but could well suit any time where you want a horror based theme. There is something for everyone! :)

I really like this Skull and could imagine the rest of it's Skeleton made out of Lego. I can't help thinking of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger though! :)
Hey! Frankie! The first thing I thought about after designing this was, the Muppets! Perhaps a character from Sesame Street even? Just check out those buldging eyes! ;)
I designed this build several months ago, I think around April. It has quite a charm about it with the 2D / 3D cross over. I need to go and watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown again! :)
So, let's end the four speed builds with a Ghost! You'll need to imagine it flying right with it's cape or sheet flapping around in flight! :)

GameDev :: ( Clickteam Fusion 2.5 )
I was quite fortunate to stumble across a Humble Bundle deal this month and score with Clickteam Fusion 2.5 Developer, plus extras. A majority of the downloads for this were via Steam. I have had a play around and like what I've seen so far. The interface will take a while to get used to, but the engine ( software ) behind this, is said to be quite powerful.
 
I hope to design a working, one level version of Bugsy Reloaded. I have started with the 'Catch the Fruit'  tutorial, just like when I started with the basic platformer tutorial in Game Maker back in 2004. In doing this I will get used to the interface and workings of Clickteam Fusion 2.5 Developer. Ironically, one of the key developers for the software is none other than François Lionet who brought us, AMOS and STOS in the 1990's, plus many software titles during the 1980's.
After I have completed the Bugsy Reloaded project, I want to work on another mini-project and then progress from there. As I progress, I will ofcourse blog my workings! :)

GameDev :: ( Barriers )
It was to be expected really, I actually finished Barriers this month and made it publically available on Android and PC. From August until October, I actually surprised myself by the progress and doing little bitesized tasks each week, it made a difference.
 
I eventually left out the Bluetooth controller option, as explained last month. It was frustrating me a little, so perhaps I can revisit this at a later date with a fresh and new idea. For a project that was started two years ago and then put on hold, I am quite proud of what I have achieved.

You can download Barriers on Android for *FREE* from the Google Play and on PC from my Alex Aris Games website.

The Immersion Heater ::
Steadily, over the last few years. The electricity bill at Aris HQ has increased! At first, you begin to think that too many appliances are being used at once or some how we are being wired into another home, powering that too! By chance, a colleague at work was discussing with me about Ecomony 7 heating. As the conversation progressed, a revelation transpired ...
Ever since I can remember, the top power switch on photo left, was turned on and bottom one was turned off. Unbeknown to me, the top switch is ( always on heated water ) and the bottom switch is ( heated via Ecomony 7 ). Ofcourse everytime you turned on the hot water tap, it would forever check or heat the water. It is an easy mistake to make and with the switches not being clearly labelled, any person is bound to experience this. So, after clarifiying the situation with Scottish Southern Electric ( SSE ) it was confirmed that the bottom switch is for Ecomony 7 and the top switch ( booster - only use when necessary ) should be turned off. There should be a significant difference with future bills, which is definitely a good thing. You'll also be pleased to know the switches are now labelled, something the landlord should have done in the first place or at least documented clearly through documentation! And so, we move on! :)

And finally ...
 




Saturday, September 24, 2016

We have Bananas, but no Internet !

It's been an action packed month all around with delays, progress and some really crazy goings on with the weather. However, with patience and perserverance everthing turned out alright in the end! :)
Even though it was early in the morning during my commute to work, the above video only captures a small part of the reality in terms of the driving conditions. I have never experienced anything like it in my life, heavy snow, but rain?

Lego :: ( MOC | speed build )
For some time, I had been wanting to design a star of some sort and could well of used yellow coloured bricks, but I decided to go with an orange / peach colour. As you may have also noticed, it has my signature bulging cartoon eyes, just to make it more fun looking! :)
We have Bananas, but no Internet !
Several years ago, we ( Mrs. A and I ) used to have our groceries delivered by a well known supermarket and in one of the quantity boxes for our online list, it was believed that only six singular Bananas or a bunch was chosen. How wrong we were?
This might sound a little confusing, but imagine if you had all the Bananas you could eat and then suddenly one day there was none? Well, not for a while anyway!
In a not so similar true story, I decided to get a better deal during September with my Landline Phone and Broadband Internet.  I chose to transfer my service to EE, a well known telecommunications company under the BT group and with whom we were currently subscribed too ( BT that is ). Everything was going really well, the new Broadband Wireless Modem arrived in good time before the switch over date and then it came to the day! The Landline was transferred correctly, but there was an error with the Broadband switch over, probably at the local exchange or nearest cabinet. During this time, EE customer service team were excellent, but it seemed that BT had to play a part in remedying the technical situation.
The process took about one week to be resolved and before an estimated day and time. I can only descripe this as *very* frustrating, not exactly a first world problem, I know! It was like going cold Turkey without having full access to the Internet with only a small data plan to go by via Vodafone to go by. ( EE even offered additional data if we were on their network, alas, our Vodafone contract expires in March 2017 ). I have no idea why it took so long, a couple of days wait would have been acceptable, but hey! It's working now with fast Fibre Broadband! :) EE also, discounted my overall connection fee, Modem delivery and first month payment. The other additional bonus, was BT not charging me an exit fee for leaving them and having a small, but welcoming £5 credit refund. Nice! :)
Despite the rare delay occurance, it was well worth the change and despite all the frustration and I'll mention it again, the EE customer service team were excellent, patient and understanding about my experience and situation. Thank you! :)

GameDev :: ( Barriers )
I have made a bit more progress with the game this month, mostly through tweaking and giving the main player ship a make over. The sound levels having been adjusted and since the video below was recorded there have been changes to a few sound effects and behaviours to the gameplay.
Barriers works really well on Android and the on screen Joystick control feels better than just holding a static area of the screen. The only routine I couldn't get to work fully, was with a Bluetooth controller. For some unknown reason, it conflicted with the on screen controls. So, it was either or just one option. Perhaps at a later date, I might be able to work out how to incorporate both routines. I don't know how many people would use a controller, but at least it would be nice to have another method of playing. The menu will remain touch screen for Android and Mouse control for PC. Some Laptops and PC's have touch screen technology, so with the keyboard controls as well, it will make the menu system a bit more interactive.

Perhaps for next month or November we may see a release or date for everyone to play and see! :)


And finally ...


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Revisit and dust down !

This has been a most interesting month with the dust down of a gamedev project from two years ago and the fact that I still remembered some of the structure and workings, is somewhat amazing ! The weather has been very good with some nice high temperatures, rain and lots of persperation moments mostly during walks a lunchtime at work and whilst out and about. It certainly has been humid month !

Lego :: ( MOC | speed build )
This month we have two builds using classic LEGO bricks, which were fun to design and one has an experiment / test that actually worked.
I really like the design of this Trophy Cup, also at the same time if you remove the handles, it acts as a Chalice. However, with this design, holding the Trophy Cup stem or base would be the best idea, as the handles are detachable.
Watch out for the Octopus ! Although, usually known to be a purple colour, I thought I would go with an orange feel. Also, with a few modifications, you could easily change this into a Spider. This was a fun MOC to do !

GameDev :: ( Barriers )
Just when I thought I'd totally put any form of gamedev on hold, I decided to pull out Barriers from two years ago and have a look at it again. This was during a week off in early August and I set myself little target goals to complete. Each goal consisted of areas of the game to check, modify or remove.
To my amazement, I really got stuck into the process. Making little checklists is the way to go, with most tasks completed on the sameday or next. During each task, I sometimes found something challenging, but after a few tests, the problem would be resovled or part of the routine improved.


I am aiming to have lots of semi-transparent objects in the background, simply as an attract mode and to make it a bit more interesting. Adding some nice graphic effects makes it more enjoyable to play, especially when you shoot an object or blow it up into smitherines ! :)

There isn't a scheduled release date for Barriers at the moment. Although, I would like to see it being completed by September or October 2016. For the moment, it will only be available on Android and PC. The majority of the work left to do, is to get everything working ( nearly everything is ) and get it looking the way I like. Again, this is only another mini-game project, mainly because of time constraints. But no matter what, I always love doing gamedev and the interesting moments it brings !

For now, I haven't uploaded any videos of the game in action on YouTube, but hope too for next month. However, if you have a Twitter account, I've posted a couple of Tweets with some video gameplay, the latest having sound effects by myself  and music kindly allowed to be used by Kent 'Powertrace' Valden. The game is still in ALPHA build mode, so there will be some sections to fix and the sound effects and volume need to be normalised.

It is also nice to get back playing with Variables again ! :)

SlayRadio ::
If you are into computer music and remixes, then you should really check out SlayRadio. It has an amazing selection of tracks played during the day and also has live shows each month ! I like to listen to this station quite a bit, as it helps me during gamedev or if I am doing random projects.

And finally ...


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bubbles, Bubbles everywhere !

Baking is usually a word associated with cooking something via dry heat, but how about some nice 30c temperatures in an office or outside in the fresh air ? Not to complain though, it's a welcome to have nicer weather. Never forgetting to drinking plenty of water, applying sun tan cream, avoiding direct sun for too long ( the shade is safe bet ) and of course access to fans or air conditioning ! :)

Pokémon Go ::
Yep ! I got caught up with the Pokémon Go phenomenon and found it to be quite a fascinating game, which promotes excercise in the strangest way, by walking around. It is a bit unfortunate to learn that several people playing have got caught up in being robbed, attacked and even involved in accidents. Even before Pokémon Go was released, this was still happening to people, so of course common sense is rarely used and a video game is always to blame ! :( Another thing to be aware of, is keep an eye on your data usage when playing, I actually went over my limit. Although, I do have mine set at only 250mb per month, as I predominantly use Wi-Fi.
Lego :: ( MOC | speed build )
You can't help but think cute when you see the characters in the video game, Bubble Bobble. I was thinking about this as a build for some time and I am very pleased with the results. By using mostly classic bricks in reletively common colours and only a few plates, it was a win-win result ! :)

Hama Beads ::
For a several months I have had amast hundreds of different coloured Hama Beads for creative art projects. As a kickstart, I decided to create a couple late one night and come up with two retro characters on drink mats, Manic Miner and a Space Invader ! :)

Once you have pain stakingly placed each bead onto the special textured pointy plate, place a grease proof sheet on top and with the natural weight on an Iron, gently move it for no more than 20-30 seconds. After this, place a heavy object like a book on top for 10 minutes and this should ensure the bond of the beads is set. I actually left my designs over night with a book on top, which really made a difference. 

Although, fiddly, it's quite a nice art project to take up and I would recommend it to anyone of all ages. The prices aren't too bad and purchasing a starter pack would be a good place to start ! :) You can buy them at most craft shops or online via Amazon or Hama Beads direct.


Crowdfunding Projects ::
During late July backers of the Project Sidologie had a nice digital download treat of disk 1 of the album in MP3 and FLAC format.
Disk 1 Track Listing :
01. Shadow Skimmer (Neil “Demon” Baldwin)
02. Robocop (Jon Dunn)
03. Rockbuster (Johannes Bjerregaard)
04. Rimrunner (Richard Joseph)
05. Storm Warrior (Mark Cooksey)
06. Athena (Martin Galway)
07. Implosion (Fred Gray)
08. Dutch Breeze (Reyn Ouwehand)
09. Mutants (Fred Gray)
10. Dominion Amyloid (Mark Tait/Marcel Donne)
11. Enigma Force (Fred Gray)
12. Trickbag (Stellan “Dane” Andersson)
13. Never Die (Kenneth “Slaygon” Mutka)
14. Gem-X (Chris Huelsbeck)
15. LED Storm (Tim Follin)

The other disks are to follow and I am loving the style and quality so far. This project is well worth the wait and the money ! :)

The Works ::
Thanks to the wonder of streaming music, Allister Brimble of famed computer game music and remixes, has released the Amiga and Spectrum Works via Spotify. The albums are well worth a listen and purchase if you can afford it.

And finally ...
The NES Classic Edition

SEGA Genesis Portable

Sunday, June 26, 2016

There's no escaping an Atchoo !

There was me thinking, that I wouldn't be struck down by a bout of hayfever. Ah ! But there is no escape ... Atchoo ! Yep ! The higher levels of both grass and tree pollen got the better of me and I have been suffering. Although, it feels more of a cold than anything else with a constant stream of nose blowing ! :o
In between sneezing with have had a lot of rain and scattered Thunderstorms over ther last few weeks. So, with the aide of a Dashcam I was able to catch a some Lightning on Camera from storm a few miles away.
The severity of the storm might not have matched those that occur in different parts of the world, but it gives a vision of what the weather was like on a said day.

Lego :: ( MOC | speed build )
This month has been quite an exciting one with regards to MOC builds, two of which a known characters. First off, we have Dizzy from Treasure Island Dizzy by the Oliver Twins.
The egg method of design consists of layered brick plates, which are held together by 4 sided studded 1x1 pieces or equally suited pieces. The same method is used to make ball shapes, ideal for decorations or sculptures.
SpongeBob SquarePants is quite a well known character. All of the bricks used in this build were from my exisiting Lego stock. Although, there is only a few articulate parts, movement of arms and tie. I was really happy with the design !
When I thought of the Reptile design, I originally intended to do a Alligator or Crocodile. I ended up with Lizard type of character, which makes me think of growing version of Bubble Bobble for some reason.
Lastly, we have Birds. I am really pleased with this build and only wish I had some blue 2x4 bricks to do red, green and blue set. Also, the blue bird would have been slightly reminiscent of the Twitter bird icon ! :)

DRIVE :: ( Dashcam | semi-regular )
DRIVE is a semi-regular series where recorded footage of a journey by myself or part is available to show the places I have visited via an affordable Dashcam by TOGUARD. At the moment, there is Stratford-upon-Avon and a couple of other locations, plus some other short clips.
I didn't realise that there are other YouTube channels with similar travel videos. It's always nice to see what a town or place looked liked even from years gone by. Here is a video recorded by Martin Bean from a Bournemouth drive in 1980 ...
It must have been quite interesting to record this during the day and the tripod or fixing mount for the video camera was genius ! :)

Crowdfunded Projects ::
This month saw the funded project for The Mastertronic Archives. Although, I could well of gone for the book, I actually went for the PDF book version on a theme Mastertronic USB memory stick in a Cassette with inlay. Quote from my selected pledge - " This level includes The Mastertronic Archives USB Cassette in a clear jewel case with a '199 Range' inspired inlay featuring cover artwork by original 1980s Mastertronic artist, Mark J. Brady PLUS your name in the book PLUS All PDFs come pre-loaded on the USB cassette along with some bonus extras! " I can't wait for this one ! :)

And finally ...
 
Lemmings for all !

Mmm ... Baguette Boats !

Loading data the good old way !

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Here Comes the Sun, the *BIG* Mix up and Diamond Hunting !

As we enter summery months ahead, it's usually a sign that the hay fever season is going to kick in as well. Thankfully, I have only sneezed a few times and not found it necessary to taken any Antihistamine. But despite this, it's a real welcome to have longer hours of daylight and warmer temperatures ! :)

Lego :: ( MOC | speed build ) / Hommage
Many years ago, I bought an all formats computer magazine called Personal Computer Games Magazine. The December 1984 issue came with a *FREE* Cassette containing Games for the ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro and Commodore 64. One of the games, Boulder Dash, was included and played really well.
Boulder Dash gave me inspiration for the next project, so after choosing from a different selection of Bricks, we have Rockford ...
A few years later, Rockford would find himself partnered up with Thing on a Spring in a comical style in the pages of Zzap! 64 magazine for the Commodore 64.
The magazine scans are courtesy of Mort, whom I purchased the complete works of Zzap!64 and Personal Computer Games from several years ago ( probably 10 years ). It certainly brings back lots of great memories reading the game reviews and interviews from 30+ years gone by !
The Newsfield Years
Lego :: ( The *BIG* Mix Up )
For some time now, I have been considering literally, mixing up all of my ( not physical retail set box sets ) Lego bricks into one box. Every design had all the brick elements separated into press and seal bags, so everything was indeed separate. The upside to mixing everything up, is that you can re-use bricks for a different design. The downside, is that you won't be able to build a design along side with others. I guess I could just order a few extra pieces to resolve this, but it makes sense to re-use existing stock !
Freshly cleaned and ready to mix up the first batch of Lego bricks, but I wonder how many will fit in this ?
These are some of the sealed and separated batches of Lego bricks, surely there will be plenty of room for all of these ?
Well, I would say that 85% of the Lego bricks fitted with possibly room for more ? You can already see the downside to mixing all the bricks together. Rummage, rummage ! :)

I think it might be a good idea to buy a couple of Part Organiser Cabinets. Enough to store the essential brick elements and perhaps keep storage boxes for overflow parts. I am not sure how big my collection will get, but it really is calming and therapeutic to design and then see a build reach it's final stage ! :)

If you have a huge amount of Lego bricks and are looking for some inspiration, why not check out this Household Hacker YouTube video ...
Crowdfunded Projects ::
The Amiga Years 
Thursday 19th May 2016 saw the digital release of " From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years! ". The psychical DVD and Blu-Ray will be available in several weeks time, mastering and compiling always takes an understandable amount of time. I believe that anyone can buy the digital download which now is available via Vimeo.
Reformation C64 Track Remakes by Matt Gray (Last Ninja 2)
This project will be released over the next few months, as Matt Gray is busy with the overwhelming task of producing the tracks, mastering and compiling. He has understandably had to extend the overall project time ! I can't begin to imagine what it is like producing so many music tracks over any period of time and for one person. Incredible ! The end product will be amazing and well worth the wait ! :)

And finally ...
 How about a Commodore 64 and Windows 10 Hybrid ?

Try Dunking these giant Bourbon Biscuits into your Coffee or Tea ?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wintry April, the Red Jet and Thing on a Spring

What a welcome April has been with a good mix of weather, including some light Snow !!! Just when you thought the coming weeks were going to get warmer, Mother Nature mixes things up again !
Apart from the random surprise of weather, this month has been relatively quiet !
 
Lego :: ( MOC | speed builds )
Some time ago, I was thinking about the Red Arrows display team and thought it would be a great idea to design an aircraft similar. What came out at the end, was an aircraft like the one from Zaxxon the video game.
The next design has to be one of my favourites to date. Thing is known character from an 1985 video game, Thing on a Spring from Gremlin Graphics. Accompanying the game was an excellent soundtrack by Rob Hubbard. Rob was renowned for this fantastic melodies, which were stuck in your head all day or in my case for over 30 years ! :)
On a regular basis, Lego give away or include promotional sets on orders over or under a certain price. Well ! As luck would have it, a friend at work received a promo code via O2 for a *FREE* Lego Batmobile for purchases over 1p ( one penny ). So, I ordered an Ironman Fridge Magnet and got the Batmobile ! :)
Hardware ::
Over the last week or so, my PC Mouse hasn't been functioning as it should and ended up maximising, not fully selecting and in some cases *CLOSED* a window I was working in. So, yesterday I ordered a another Mouse from Amazon ( JETech ) and for less than £6 ( GBP ) it is working remarkably well.
Crowdfunded Projects ::
Another project arrived this month, Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers by Andrew Hewson. This also came with a music compilation. However, this time I opted for a digital copy of the book and download of the album. Both the book and album are excellent, certainly worth the wait !

Later next month, the From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years! project is going to be available. From Thursday 19th May, a digital download will be available later on pysical DVD and Blu-Ray copies becoming available shortly afterwards.

Plus, I am super excited about Matt Gray's Reformation album which should be out anytime soon. You can listen to some of the sample tracks on Soundcloud !
 
Star Wars The Force Awakens ::
Another film I didn't go and see at the cinema, even so, it was a real treat watching it on DVD. The storyline was good and the special effects were awesome.
I wanted to have my own BB-8 droid after watching the film, I had to be realistic though and realised I already had one from the December 2015 Nerd Block.
And finally ...

If your Microwave Oven is a trusted accompaniment to the Kitchen, then why not try out some of these recipies from Gemma Stafford ...