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.

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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 ...






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