Tuesday, 29 August 2017

On The Road...

So, I was driving the other day, and passed a lorry, which I noted with interest advertised the company (who owned the lorry I presume) as being the worlds' leader in wet wipe technology. I must say that I'm fascinated to think what their daily routine would be.  I can only imagine hundreds upon hundreds of people in white coats dipping tissues in buckets with varying amounts of water in, rubbing the tissue on a carefully and precisely created stain, reviewing the success, or otherwise, of removing the stain, and noting the results on a clipboard - which I further assume would be either "too wet", "too dry", or, and this is the one that they're trying to attain, "just right".

On the same road, I saw a caravan model that was called "Pursuit".  I desperately want one of these, and I would use it to create a television series about a police officer that would disrupt his weekend holidays by listening in to police radio frequencies and taking part in car chases. Naturally the series would be called "In Pursuit".

I do enjoy a drive.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

AstroNest - Nest of the Best!

AstroNest: The Beginning is a mobile space strategy/combat game by AN Games, a company of games developers in Korea.

In a nutshell, you run your own task force of combat space ships, built and supported by a number of colonised planets, in an effort to win the war between the Federation of Terra and the Alliance of Neos. I won't talk about the lore in the game, suffice to say there is some, but mainly it's all about getting the best ships to fight other ships.

Here's the main screen where all the stuff happens

The game has a good mixture of management and combat, neither being too complicated whilst being detailed enough to make you give some thought as to how you want your fleets of ships to form.

Do you want fleets purely composed of small but fast moving destroyers that can take the battle to the enemy? Or perhaps larger ships loaded with missiles that can sit at the back and pound away?  Or do you prefer a mixture?

Tactics such as fleet formations also come into play, allowing you to arrange your ships to get certain bonuses.

Also key are heroes.
I'm convinced that the two guys are related. Or are maybe identical twins and one of them has been time travelling.

Heroes are put in charge of your planets, and of your fleets. You have to get the best heroes for their speciality - there's no point putting a combat expert in charge of managing the gold resource on your home planet, just as an economist doesn't want to be giving orders on the flagship of a cruiser fleet.  Heroes gain experience over time, and also be improved by training or by what are called "Trons", accessories that give them further improvements.

Your planets have various facilities that support your fleets, such as providing gold and mineral that pretty much pays for everything else, energy to allow your fleets to grow in number, and research to improve your ships and heroes.

There's more complexity to the game, but that can be picked up if you go into detail.

Of course the thing I've not talked about yet is the combat.

Here we go! For black & white viewers, my ships are on the left.

For all you muck about setting up your fleets, when you hit that button to fight, it's all taken out of your hands and you have to helplessly watch as your ships either destroy the enemy or get blown apart. Happily however losing your entire task force doesn't actually make any difference, all those ships magically appear again afterwards, ready for another go.

Uh oh... missiles incoming...

Time for revenge!

And that's how it is done!

As with any free-to-play game there are built in restrictions to slow down your play (which can be overridden with the application of cold, hard cash) but to be honest I haven't found any problems with playing it for free so far - although it should be noted that I'm only level 20 out of 100, so my feelings may change. Nevertheless, it's a pleasure to play a free game which doesn't have adverts crawling all over it, and which navigates that difficult path for mobile games of being playable on a small screen yet complex enough to remain entertaining.

I also liked the tutorial built into the game - unlike most tutorials whilst it gives you clear pointers as to what to press and what to do, you're not actually bound into doing exactly what it says. Once or twice I actually found better options than what the tutorial was suggesting for me, and it was flexible enough to let me carry out those better options instead of making me stick with whatever it wanted.

AstroNest: The Beginning is available on both Apple and Android devices, if you do give it a try feel free to send me a friend request (I'm on server Sirius, name Thog (#352945) and I'm on the side of the Alliance of Neos)

Friday, 18 August 2017

Calming Down An Angry Balloon #parenting

First task of the day - trying to calm down an angry balloon.

Angry balloon, complete with washing up that I ought to have put away by now.

Unfortunately, there was no reasoning with the angry balloon.

Suffice to say things did not end well for the balloon.

Have a good Friday :)

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Sequel - Just THREE Questions!

Following up my last blog post, where I ranted about being asked "just two questions" by a person in telesales, I was rung up the other day - at dinner time - by a lady who promised that she just had three questions to ask me.

As may be obvious, particularly to anyone to read the last post, I have a very low tolerance threshold for telesales, but, thinking that I might be able to get another blog post out of it, I decided to run with the call and see how far I could manage.

 So, the lady asked "Can I ask you just three questions?"
 "Do you live at [my address]?" she asked.  Nice easy one for starters.
 "Yes, I do."
 "What's your age bracket? 20s, 30s...?"
 "30s." I said. Again, no problem with this.
 "What bracket is your household salary?" she asked, following this up with a list of options. I picked whichever bracket we fall in.
 "Have you EVER had a loan or mortgage?"
 "Are you interested in recovering the cost of Payment Protection Insurance from any of those products?" she asked. (side-note - one day, people on this planet will have no idea what PPI was. You lucky people, future humans)
 "No." I responded.
 "Who is your broadband provider? Sky, Virgin, or TalkTalk?" she asked.
 "None of those, " I said, "we're with Kingston Communications."

 Something you need to understand for the next bit - in Hull in the UK, we're on a separate landline phone network to the rest of the UK.  The rest of the UK is with British Telecoms, but we're not. In times gone by each city would have its own phone network, but over time all of them, except for Hull, formed a single big network.
 The effect of this is that 99.9% of the internet providers in the UK don't offer internet in Hull. I just tried using uSwitch to search for broadband providers, and instead of the usual choice of 70-80 deals, it gave me a choice of one.

 So, she then asked me "Would you be interested in saving money on broadband?"
 "No, I can't change my broadband." I said.
 She helpfully explained "I'm not saying do you want to change your provider, I'm asking would you like to save money on your broadband?"
 "No, I wouldn't, I'm in Hull and there's only one provider, so no thank you." I explained further.
 She repeated "I'm not saying do you want to change your provider, I'm asking would you like to save money on your broadband?"
 "No, thank you, I don't want to." I said, hoping this was the end of this question - particularly bearing in mind the call had definitely included more than three questions at this point.
 Yet again, she repeated herself. "I'm not saying do you want to change your provider, I'm asking would you like to save money..."

 I hung up on her.

 I hope for another call in a few days which this time will have just four questions, so I can keep the blog material coming.

Before I go, I should say that Marketing 4 Startups has kindly let me blog on their website about what makes a good blog post, so do feel free to take a look.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Just Two Questions...

I got a phone call on my mobile at work the other day. I didn't recognise the number, but I use my mobile phone for both work and personal calls, so I took the call anyway.
 "Hi, is this Michael Raven?"
 My heart sank. You can immediately tell from the background hum of a busy call centre, the slightly poor quality of the line and the persons demeanour that they are a telesales operative, using a cheap headset, in a large room full of telesales operatives using cheap headsets.
 I don't have a great tolerance for telesales, but I try to be polite initially.
 "Yes, it is."
 "Great! Now before you hang up, can I just ask two questions, and then you can go about your day?"
 This was a different approach, I thought. Two questions is pretty brief.
 There was a silence for several seconds, until the telesales person said "Mr Raven?"
 "Am I ok to just ask you two questions, and then you can hang up?"
 "Yes." I said once again with slightly more emphasis, hoping that the guy would pick up that the emphasis was me saying Get On With It.
 "Okay, so first question, do you live in a house?"
 "Yes?" he said. He seemed surprised, as though every other person he ever asked answered that actually no, they live on a narrowboat.
 "Yes, I live in a house." I said, again, emphasis building further. If the emphasis was shown you would have seen a small sign on the ground saying "Yes", and immediately behind it a forty foot swaying tower of large, heavy, jagged rocks, and painted on each rock would be "GET ON WITH IT".
 "Now I'm going to ask you the second question, and then you can go about your day Mr Raven, is that okay?"
 "So, I'm just going ask this one final question and then we're done Mr Raven, as you'll see it's only taken a couple of minutes out of your day and I think you'll find-"
 I don't know what the rest of his spiel was as I was so bored I just hung up on him. I don't know who drafted his sales script but I would have been quite happy to skip the parts where he told me how quick the call was.

But it has made me wonder what the second question was - while it was probably something like "Do you want to save money on your home energy bills?" I live in hope that it was actually something far more exciting like "Would you like to have in your home a cat that knows karate?"

What do you think the second question was?  Feel free to drop your second question in the comments below :)

Finally, thanks so much to everyone that's subscribed to this blog via email or via an RSS reader, I just seen that I've now got over 300 subscribers which is really awesome :) If you don't subscribe yet but would like to, there should now be a "Subscribe by Email" box at the bottom of every page of the blog, with a Subscribe button, or if you use an RSS reader you can subscribe through that. Thanks again!

The caption for an RSS feed. Exciting stuff!

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