Closing Down Patreon (by )

I have closed my Patreon - I am still supporting stuff myself but I was finding it a bit of a millstone on the creativity for my own stuff.

I've been talking about it with my supporters for the last year and all agreed there was a better way for me to go forward - it is an amazing platform and helped me launch Love: A Stranger Dream.

But I am too diverse and my "fans" tend to want a specific part of what I do and not the whole thing and so it was just really not working for me.

There is content which is only on Patreon - I am not releasing it yet but will do at some point in the future.

The Minecrafter is BACK!!! (by )

enchanting table Minecraft

So one of the big frustrations with the head injury stuff was that video/computer games became something I simply could not do - I love my games - I am not really what would be called a "gamer" I suppose - I love what I love and that is sliding block puzzles like Tetris and junk jewels/candy crush and hexic, arcade type games like Peggle where you are basically playing electronic pin ball, puzzle solvers like Oh No More Lemmings and Worms, platform games like the old Mario Brothers, racers - either simple race tracks or as space ships dodging things and trying to beat others for time, simulation games like Vector Tower Defence and Lux. But though I loved things like Street Fighter I have always struggled with the more immersive shooters etc... so Call of Duty and even games like Portal - I simply always failed to be good at playing them - I do like watching others play them - but normally only the fist time round - for me they become a slightly interactive movie in real time.

Without Halo and the like I would hesitate to say I was ever a "gamer" I do like games however of all types, including board and and card games so I would say I am a GAMER and bring it on anyone who disagrees!

The absence of computer games was heart breaking I couldn't even do the Connect Adventure stuff which was such an amazing boon when we got the xbox 360. There were multiple reasons for this - I'd knocked my optics out during the head injury and have a blind spot in my left eye I have had to adapt too, brain processing power being limited meant a 10 min screen season left me drained and then the visuals and motion gave me motion sickness at best and increased my chances of seizures.

Every now and then I would try again and found last year that I could get on with Peggle (the pinball game) and proceeded to work my through the challenges I had left uncompleted in all the variants I had on the xbox. Hexic I have to be careful with still but can play a little bit but the one I was missing - the one I write stories about, the one I knit and collect the toys of... the one that is a family obsession and the one the kids kept asking me to play with them was of course MINECRAFT.

So I have been having a little go at it again, I have to have the sensitivity set so that the visuals don't fly here there and everywhere and I am still having to heavily limit time on it but everyone is helping me and it has been great fun 🙂

My original world Gia is very out dated and somethings in it are broken due to the updates and the lack of certain biomes. I had made another world which was and will be an adventure map with Jean when we were hopeful the head injury stuff wasn't going to go on and on but it took too much out of me - she is now fretting that no one plays the adventure maps anymore but we have been designing it off line (yes I have note pads of scared paper - bite me!) so one day in like a decades time I'm sure we will complete it!

The new world is called Aqua-Ma'am and is essentially going to be my Aquarium world - mainly I got all excited because there are DOLPHINS!!! And sea wrecks and stuff. The biomes were set small and the hardness made easy - I only play in survival and I began to dig - issue - my eye sight is bad enough I can't read the stuff on the screen which is a bit of a pain but something I am hoping new glasses can sort but also a bit worried about as current prescription is not a million miles away from having me technically blind :/

Back to the minecraft - there are lots of different minerals and animals - I've found Lammas and bunnies and so so many fish!

There is also a whole host of new monsters or mobs for me to jump out of my skin and fret about! Alaric pointed out that I am the guy from I am Legend where the Drowned are concerned. These new water zombies are new to me and one of my little bothies/half way houses is right near a load including baby ones which sadly I took out. I do however now have a clam shell - none of us really know what to do with it as the kids play mainly in creative using it as kind of electronic lego and Alaric had gotten bored and wandered away from it a while ago but has been helping me, Jean, Mary and my Dad with our worlds over Christmas and is getting back into it.

In my orig world the entire thing had been centred on me building a giant pyramid , when coloured dies where added it became a rainbow pyramid - it was supposed to have all you needed within including the farms - this has been scuppered as I have lost the ability to tame pigs and other animals simply will not spawn there due to the lack of biomes - I think I have four? Including the Mushroom island. I had not wanted to use creative mode to fix things but may have to - I have a great art gallery in it 🙂

Aqua-Ma'am is all about the fish - plans include an enchanted ice palace, a sandcastle hyper beach (though may not have enough sand for this), a giant glass pyramid at the very centre of the map and floating aquaria spheres in the sky, along with a research centre and theme park and underwater observation domes and maybe a ship or two - this is glass heavy so we will have to see how far the resources stretch!

It is tiring enough that outside of the holidays as we are now it will have to be restricted to weekends :'(

So far Dad has helped me mine resources so I had iron for shears so I could make beds without killing the sheep so that I could explore and uncover my map. Jean has chopped down trees and is my fount of minecraft knowledge, Mary has dropped me down holes in the ground and collected a load of snow balls for me and helped me tame my dog - currently called Dog. And Alric has been doing stints of exploring tunnels for me.

I have built myself a series of little mud, stone and plank huts around my world, and started some basic farming. I uncovered the map - got lost a lot, am now not entirely sure where all the bothies are but have now found pumpkins so have grown them, carved them and produced jock-o-lanterns so that I can mark where the houses are better than my little torch trails. I am trying not to waste any resources - and spent far too much of last week playing!

Finally seeing everything on the map meant I could choose what was going where - I appear to only have one village and a haunted house - this will be the research centre and grand library. I am hoping more stuff is going to be hidden in the vallies and under the sea. In my snow zone I have begun work on my enchanted ice castle and chiseled all the way down to the bed rock, collected lava and made a place to build the first of many enchanting tables - I am also farming the sugar cane though not yet cows needed to make the books (books are paper plus leather and paper is made made from the sugar cane). Turns out Alaric's farming techniques are a little bit out of date and my farm is a little higgled at the moment 🙂

I decided to fill in the uneven bedrock floor with obsidian so had to retrieve lava in buckets - Al got the first lot for me and I accidentally destroyed a source block - boo hiss but once laid we build mud around and poured water on it. It had to all be lava source blocks as flowing lava becomes cobble stone.

Lava cross Minecraft

Obsidian cross in the bed rock Minecraft

I have enchanted my sword as I need to go mob hunting - so far all I've killed myself are downed :/

Really enjoying it and hoping I can remember what I am doing at the weekend when I get to play again!

Parent Fail 1 and 2 of the New Year (by )

1st parent failure of the year - turns out Mary had a theatre day on the first day back at school with a performance at the end of the day. Also she needed packed lunch which we obviously hadn't sent her with and though I knew she had a thing in January I had failed to notice it was on the first day back and a reminder txt only got to Alaric Blagrave Snell-Pym at 2:15 for a 2:30 performance :'(

Still not sure why I'm not getting the txts Al says he's emailed the school about it several times now and I used to get them but have fallen off of the system before - maybe it is one of those weird things like my my voice mail activating itself when I never set it up and have had the same phone for ages :/

We are really upset about this - poor Mary is just not getting the same attendance to her school performances as Jeany and not for want of trying but we are both finding the school letters dense and waffly without the info set out in an accessible way - but no one else seems to be having issue with it so we have to conclude it is us - to be honest finding time to read it on screen now its not paper is hard - ironically we had wanted an electronic version but more a searchable data base thing rather than just an electronic version of the news letter but then we have also failed to keep track of the schools tech upgrades including the homework set ups :/ And that is with us being a tech family - Jean is also struggling because our tech is all "out of date".

Not a good start to the year. Wall planner is now up and being filled in - sadly not in time for Mary's performance. Also what's happening to inset days why are they all suddenly NOT and activity days?

Us parents seem far more upset about this than Mary who was quiet happy because she got to eat a muffin for her lunch and muffins or MUFFFFAINS! are her current favourite food.

New Years and Slither Moons (by )

Moon, Birds and Morning Star

It is the 7th of January and not the 1st - this year I specifically didn't push myself to blog, post, reply to emails or even write in my diary. The intensity and exhaustion of Christmas meant that I wanted and needed to spread things out. So that is what we have done.

New Years Day we did our walk to welcome the New Year - something I did not manage last year and that too is ok. It was a dreary dark day but there was fire and lights and beautify in the glome. I have already formulated some of the pictures into a twitter poem. And will hopefully get around to posting all the worthy pics - a lot are blurry due to light levels but are keepers due to the compositions and thoughts had whilst taking them!

For know here are the embedded tweets:

Then I woke on the 2nd to crippling period and a beautiful down of moon slither, morning star (Venues) and birds flying here there and everywhere. I wish it was a better picture but it was a grab and snap before camera battery died with no time for tripods. The image was stark and dynamic, ancient and new and I felt I needed to capture it as a memory.

2018 was an up and down year with AMAZING things like the Aethelflead Festival and being involved with so many festivals and activities - finding out about family history etc... but it was also HORRENDOUS with miscarriage aftermath, another miscarriage, deaths of family members and hospitalisations of others - friends going through hard times and feeling powerless to help - this is the double edged sword of being from a large extended family and having so many wonderful friends. There is much love but also lots of pain - I can't and wouldn't choose not to love or care but sometimes it downs you.

I got to do more acting in 2018 and would like to do more of that in 2019, I also made and created lots of things but didn't complete stuff that should have been completed - not sure if that can be remedied in the coming year - all I can do is try. Already having ideas to try out.

There will be a big push for the publishing and writing side of what I do in the coming year. There are several large projects that have been simmering on back burners that will hopefully get to bloom (mix those metaphors baby!).

But I am not tying the year down to have toos because I can't and it if I try it will just lead to misery. I have put on a lot of weight this last year - I am attempting to shift it - it may take a while it might not be doable but general fitness I can try and sort. I just wish I had more energy in the first place - there is so much I want to do and feel stifled by the restrictions. Jean is helping me - there is apparently an app for everything. Already seen how much my periods affect my strength which was interesting - it was very marked.

Attempting less Facebook but more blogging, twitter, Pinterest etc... I really don't like FB but am tied to it but the fact that many people only interact/contact me via it. I will probably fail at this and end up posting every five mins!

Craft wise there are a lot of projects to finish off, and lots of photos to sort, and picture to draw/scan and music to make (actually practicing some of the instruments I have would be a start).

I will get around to making a proper plan for it all but probably not until my birthday weekend. And talking of birthdays this year is Alaric's 40th so there will have to be something major for that - I am looking forward to theming some sort of get together but he is dallying!

Oh and we have a new kitten - Potassium - she needed rehoming after the council did their Tennent checks and arrived on Christmas Eve much to the children's delight especially Mary who had quiet literally been praying for a kitten!

I will try and submit more work this year and look forward to growing more things at the allotment - issue currently being that the mild weather means the beans that should be coming up late Feb decided to germinate - not sure they will survive but have so far.

So I am heading off into this new year with some trepidation but a good scoop of hope too.

Slither Moon and Morning Star

Sharing is Caring, but Resharing is Poison (by )

I've noticed a trend that has led me to develop a theory.

It's widely said that social networks start off fun and then decline; I've usually hard this attributed to some combination of (a) all your colleagues, family, and former schoolmates joining or (b) it "becoming mainstream" and a rabble of ignorant masses pouring in.

This implies an inevitability - such environments are fun when they're occupied by an exclusive bunch of early adopters, but if they're fun they'll become more popular, and before long, they'll be full of Ordinary People who Ruin It. Good social networks are, therefore, destined to either to be ruined by going mainstream, or die out because they never take off.

I disagree. The elitism inherent in that viewpoint is a warning sign that it's a convenient and reassuring fiction, for a start; and I have an alternative theory. As you may have guessed from this post's title, I think that the provision of a facility to reshare (retweet, repost) other's content with a simple action is a major contributing factor to making a social network descend into a cesspit of fake news and hate.

Back in the early days of Twitter, most of the tweets were things that people had typed out themselves. Many of them were links to other things, but doing that required manually copying the URL and pasting it into a tweet, and most people added a word or two of commentary when they did so.

But Twitter these days is dominated by retweets. In a quick survey of the current tops of my various Twitter timelines, I saw 7 retweets and 5 original tweets. I see less of what my follows are doing, and more of what my follows are liking about what others are doing.

As these centralised social networks are advertising companies, this is a desirable state of affairs for them, for at least two reasons:

  1. Single-click resharing means that content can spread virally across the platform, getting seen by millions of people in a very short timeframe. This is attractive to advertisers, so the network can make money selling tools to help them encourage this, to track the spread of content, and to generally spread the idea that their network is a place where things spread quickly and influence culture.
  2. A big part of their business model is to better profile their users, so they can sell targeted advertising. It's harder for a computer to analyse your prose to learn about you (bearing in mind you might use complicated linguistic tricks such as irony) than to just see if you click a button in response to something or not. The algorithm might not be entirely clear on the meaning of the content you've just reshared, but it now knows that you have something in common with the four million other people who also reshared it; and cross-referencing that with other information it holds about you and them is a powerful predictive tool.

But that same ability for things to rapidly spread is the driving force behind:

  1. The rapid spread of fake news; tools designed to help advertisers are easily adopted with people wanting to control our minds for reasons even worse than mere financial gain.
  2. Hate storms, when something gets widely shared between a community of people who hate the behaviour implied by the original content; who then all respond angrily to it within the social network and often, due to the amplified feeling of communal hate and the wide reach bringing it to the attention of unhinged and morally dubious people, leading to crimes being committed against the target as "revenge".
  3. A decreased sense of community, due to seeing more and more content from outside your group. Interacting with the social networks becomes more like watching TV than sitting chatting with your friends.

I think the elitist complaint that social networks go wrong when they "go mainstream" and "the normals come and ruin it" is really just a misguided attempt to put the lingering feeling embodied in that last point into words.

Looking back at the original decentralised social networks such as email, Usenet and IRC, they all lacked a single-click "reshare" facility - but some of the criticisms of email and usenet (excess crossposting, forwarded chain emails) both come down to it still being a bit too easy to share things across community boundaries. IRC escaped this.

I think there's no reason a social network can't scale to cover the planet without becoming a cesspit - but I suspect that making forwarding content on too easy is a great way to drag it down the pan.

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