I’ve been slowly chipping away at my Armies on Parade board over the last few days (when I’ve resisted the siren song of Warcraft…). The army itself is another matter, but that’s for another day.

Basic construction of the base has been finished, apart from that one empty corner. I’ve got a couple of ideas of how to fill it, I just haven’t settled on an option yet.

I started off by gluing the section cut from the Realm of Battle board to the plywood, and clamping everything together. Once the glue dried, I covered the sides and holes in the board with a hefty amount of Polyfilla.

After leaving everything overnight to cure, I used an electric sander to smooth everything off and trim off the excess plastic. A new floor for the main building area was created out of textured plasticard.

Time to check everything would fit into the case, and to see how tall I could make the buildings. It turned out I had 11.5 inches in height I could use, which was plenty. The new Sector Imperialis buildings are ~5 inches per level, so I could comfortably fit a two-story building into the case.

Now it’s on to the fun stuff – the buildings! I started by laying out a rough floor-plan, to see how many sections I needed per side. I ended up not using all of the sections on the left side.

With two sides built, things are starting to take shape. I removed the door built into one of the wall sections, to give another “access point” to the building.

Here I’m test fitting the upper floor, to make sure everything is square. As I’d been using a spare floor section to try line-up the wall sections throughout, things were pretty good.

By this point I was starting to think about the walls on the upper floor, but it was time to pack everything away for the night. Shortly after taking this picture, I realised I had to rip the column tops from the right-side wall as I remembered I was going to extend the floor out that way.

This is the mess from just from scraping off mould-lines in one sitting. Time to get the vacuum out…

My plan is to finish construction of the buildings and ruins this evening. Providing I get the missing corner filled with something, I might manage to get the first layers of paint on the board by the start of next week. I really need to get the board finished soon, so I can move on to painting the army. There are only 45 days to go until Parade Day!

I’ve been granted some WoW in-game time as a resolution to an old support ticket, so I’m able to jump onto my higher-level characters again. I’m comparing the experience to the one I had with the new character I started earlier, and… hooo-boy the experience on my 110 Paladin was confusing. I stopped playing pretty early in Legion’s lifecycle, so when I logged in I was prompted to do the Legionfall scenario straight away, then after 1 quest or so, I was immediately whisked off to start Argus. While I’m on my way to Argus, I’m prompted to start the Siege of Lordaeron, leaving me wondering what content is actually worth playing through. Playing the Siege would net me a shiny new weapon, but no way to follow up on that storyline until I drop £40-£53 on Battle for Azeroth.

On top of the questing confusion, all my talents were reset and my abilities changed. These were expected, but it adds to the sense of unfamiliarity. I’m not a fan of the GCD change and how it affects Paladin rotation, but that might just be a symptom of generally feeling lost. Right now I feel like I’m just mashing random buttons whenever I get in combat, in the hope something fires off.  On a character I’ve played on-and-off for 11ish years, feeling lost is very uncomfortable and frustrating!

I guess I’m in an odd position in that I’m coming back after a new expansion is released, but I haven’t unlocked the new content yet. In general the experience seems to be that while new characters get guided to where they need to be, returning characters need to figure out for themselves what they’re meant to be playing through, with the implication that you will just drop anything “old” from your Quest Log immediately. But there’s nothing to tell you in-game what is out-dated. In my case, for this character, the path forward is pretty much “buy BFA and forget about anything Legion-related,” but if I’d been returning at some point around the pre-patch, with no clue as to what had been released since I stopped playing, I would have been completely disorientated.

Maybe I’ll just stick with a new character for now

Warhammer Conquest was a big topic of conversation this week. Knotley has two excellent posts breaking down the cost and value. I’ve subscribed, at least for now. £32 per month, to have something delivered regularly might actually help me cut down on impulse purchases. Plus, more Marine bodies and paints are always welcome. And there’s an exclusive Primaris Lieutenant/Sergeant with issue 5 that I really want to get.

Warboss Kurgan had some excellent Endless Spell conversions to show off, to fit his “Blanchitsu” style Age of Sigmar creations.

Meanwhile, Bear was showing off his lovely Stardrake and Celestant Prime.

Over at The Aaronorium, theactualcolin posted his Lord of Contagion, which he hopes will do better in games, now it finally has some paint on it.

Iron Sleet have the first two battle reports from their amazing looking “Thorn Moons Crusade” collaborative narrative campaign. The conversions, painting, and story-telling are all first class, so I highly recommend you check out the reports from the 7th Moon and 15th Moon. Then read everything in the archive. Also at Iron Sleet, Migs talks about what’s coming next from him.

Dave at Quietly Raging is making some real-world inspired, very Imperial looking Church Tanks. Yes, churches on tanks. He’s only posted the inspiration on his blog for now, but if you follow him on social media, you’ll probably have seen WIP pictures of a very gothic looking Baneblade.

Mordian 7th has finished an Orlock gang and some characters, for Necromunda.

Curis has posted some more of his Classic Citadel miniatures, this time some excellently painted “Blandford Warriors” from 1988. I was 5 when these were released. The Lions Rampant on the shield/tabard of Owen of Wales are probably my favourite bit of the 3 miniatures.

Tyler Mengal has some words on using Cheat Sheets to keep you right. These are something I should definitely make more use of.

Sprews & Brews ponder on what they’d like to see from the rumoured Battletome covering the various “The Lost and The Damned” factions in Age of Sigmar, i.e. Beastmen, Darkoath, Slaves to Darkness, and a host of other minor Chaos factions. Also over there is part 2 of Dave’s Legion of Nagash vlogs.

Part 4 of CadianShock’s guide to getting started with Astra Militarum has been posted. Fall in, Guardsman.

Pike’s Miniature Painting and Bolter & Brush both posted some good “How To” videos, on Mortarion and the Lord Celestant, respectively.

Frontline Gaming have an article from (the world’s only?) professional Warhammer 40,000 player, Nick Nanavati, about studying smarter, not harder, to avoid “gotcha” moments in games.

Finally, Forge World rolled out some big changes to pricing and shipping. In the UK, this generally means cheaper, faster, shipping. The reaction from those outside of the UK has been far from happy though, as the faster shipping has been offset by 15-40% price increases in some cases.

That’s all for this week. Did you find this round-up useful? Should I make them a regular thing? Let me know in the comments, and share this post with your friends ?

Mike Monteiro has written some of my favourite articles on about Twitter, most written from a place of frustration, sadness, and anger at the avoidable decline and lack of leadership. I wanted to bookmark them here so I had one simple place to refer back to them from, and to share them with any readers who hadn’t yet come across them.

I’ve wanted to enter Armies on Parade for several years now, but I’ve never managed to get myself organised in time. This year might go the same way, but I’ve at least started on the display board, which is further than previous years!

I have a unique constraint on my entry: for logistical reasons, my entire entry must fit in a carry case. Assuming I use the largest I have, the Battlefoam P.A.C.K 720, that means my entry has a footprint of 12″ x 15″, give or take. The standard size for Armies on Parade is 24″ x 24″ – so I have roughly half the space available to me of most other entrants!

I’m not 100% set on which army I’ll be taking. Most likely it’ll be Space Marines of some order, for 40K. If I enter for AoS, it’ll be the Deepkin army I started through a Path To Glory campaign. I have the clearest idea for a 40K board, so that’s where I’m starting today.

I ordered 2 custom cut pieces of plywood to serve as my base board. This saved me the hard part of betting my edges straight. I’m only using 1 for now, so the other is on standby, just in case.

With my base sorted, I needed to figure out a theme, and how I was going to build it. Kill Team is providing the inspiration this year, so I figured the Sector Imperialis look is the perfect place to start. I could also cheat a little bit here. I had a solitary tile from the Sector Imperialis Realm of Battle board lurking at the back of a cupboard, from a previous planned entry. Obviously, it’s too big for my diminutive board, but that’s why Man invented power tools! I laid the board on top of the tile, where I thought I’d get a good mixtue of details, traced around it with a sharpie, and then set about it with a jigsaw. 5 minutes of cutting with a blade rated for aluminium, and I had a section of the tile roughly cut to size.

Which when laid over the board looks something like this:

You might have noticed one of the corners is bare, due to where I cut the tile. That’s fine – I’m going to fill it with rubble or something similar, so it won’t be noticed once everything is complete.

You might also have noticed all the edges look a bit wierd. That’s because when you cut using a powertool, it usually generates enough heat to melt the plastic. I’ll be tidying that up when I get around to filling and sanding the edges – but that’s a job for another day!

I’m one of those people who still cling to their RSS Reader as a way to aggregate and read interesting things and news. Even though half the feeds in my blog folder are dead, I keep them around in the hope they one day spring to life again as we all get tired of the social media walled gardens, and start publishing on our own sites again. I’m sure it’s part habit, part convenience, part nostalgia.

At the moment I’m using The Old Reader, and using Stylus to fix the horrible, horrible default reading experience. TOR has worked fine for me up to now, but I was already near the subscription limits of the free tier, and I have a whole lot of new feeds to import that would basically double the number of sites I follow.

I know I could just use Feedly, as the free tier supports unlimited sources. That’s my fallback, but I left Feedly for The Old Reader several months ago, as I was becoming increasingly annoyed by some of their attempts to push Feedly Pro and team-based features. I just want to read my news, not create collections or share with teams, or whatever else they’ve come up with since. My RSS reader is not a shared experience.

So I’m probably going to have to start paying for a web-based reader, I want to make sure I’m using the best one I can. TOR is ok, but paying for something I have to use an addon to “fix” seems a bit silly.

If you’re using a paid-tier reader, which one are you using? My basic list of requirements are:

  • 3rd Party Apps can use it as a synchronisation source, so I can read on my iPhone or iPad.
  • Support for 200+ feed sources
  • A nice reading experience in the web client

Let me know in the comments what your preferred reader is!

This post, by Steve Smith, speaks to me and my constant struggles to finish projects:

…starting a project is thrilling. The unknown is exciting. The opportunity to solve new problems in new ways is inspiring. But nothing compares to the joy of finishing. Starting is easy. Finishing is hard.

Steve is talking about software, using his hobby of woodworking as an example. For me, it’s all about the hobby. Finishing a miniature painting project that is taking more than a couple of days is hard. Maintaining the motivation and enthusiasm needed to get through all those finishing steps is hard. Heck, even getting through the first few steps of picking out all the base coats is hard. Throw in my personal rule of not playing with unpainted miniatures, and it’s easy to figure out why I’ve not played a game of Warhammer 40,000 since before 8th Edition launched.

Strangely enough, the building stage… that’s easy, although it’s the part I usually complain about. Perhaps I should learn to let go and play with “the grey tide”?

Don’t be silly. I’ll just have to keep pushing through and finish.

Enough users are fed-up with Twitter and the cess-pool it’s becoming, that they have declared Friday 17th August to be #DeactiDay. The hope is a short, sharp, shock of mass account deactivations will make those in charge sit up and listen. I’ve no hope left that it will, but it’s worth a shot.

I’ll admit that I’m torn. Some aspects of Twitter are still worth checking out. The wargaming/hobby community and the connections I’ve made have been wonderful. It’s clinging to these positive interactions which have made Twitter my most used social media site.

But outside of these bright spots, the service has been slowly sinking into a toxic morass. It’s just not fun any more, and the leadership seems to be morally vacuous.

I’ve noticed myself becoming more and more wary of using Twitter. It’s one reason I just spent the weekend retooling this site so I can reclaim a space to post my thoughts free from a looming sense that I’m helping prop up something which is doing more harm than good.

Last week I deleted my entire tweet history (apart from ~275 which can’t seem to be accessed). In part, this was because I couldn’t tell you everything that was in the nearly 10 year-old bundle of half-thoughts. With the increased weaponisation of long-forgotten tweets, as shown in the James Gunn and Sarah Jeong incidents, keeping nearly 29,000 tweets around felt like an unnecessary risk. Others have already done the same, or left the site altogether.

This coming Friday I will deactivate my account and take at least a 30 day break from Twitter. If the message is heard and acted on, I might reactivate. If not? I guess we’ll see if the few positives manage to keep me around. I suspect they won’t.

[Hat-tip to BoingBoing: I’m joining the campaign to deactivate my Twitter account on August 17. ]

I’ve had my Series 3 since launch1. At different points over the last several years, I’ve had many a wearable strapped to my wrist, and several times over my lifetime I’ve tried to get into the habit of wearing a watch. I’m pretty confident in saying that nothing has stayed on my wrist more than a few months. So why get a Series 3, and is it any better?

First, Some Background

Wearable tech always ended up falling short of its promises. In this category, I’ve tried various health trackers and one other SmartWatch — a Motorola 360 v2. My most common technological complaint with all of these devices was software quality, with “utility” (specifically: lack of) being a close-run second. Each device has been close to what I wanted the technology to be at the time, but each had maddening quirks and flaws which would build up frustration over time.

When it came to actually wearing each of these devices (and the traditional watches), we get to the main reason I stopped using them: none were comfortable. Whether it was thick, sweat-inducing rubberised straps, solid fastening mechanisms digging into my wrist as I tried to work, or general size, shape, and weight… I rarely wanted to keep them on my wrist for long.

Nothing epitomises all of my previous complaints more than the Motorola 360 I wore for a few months, around 2 years ago. Within a few days I knew I’d made a mistake but as I’d spent what felt like a lot of money on it, I was determined to stick it out. It was big, heavy, and I struggled to find a position on my wrist which was comfortable. The weight meant that it would slide further down my wrist as I was walking, so it wouldn’t stay comfortable for long. The strap buckle would dig into my wrist when I was typing; I tried several alternatives (1st and 3rd party), but each had their own flaws. The software was “OK”, especially when sticking to the Android Wear 1st-party apps, but in general, it was slow as hell. Very few 3rd-party applications were worth installing, though I tried a lot. Battery life was terrible — even when I wouldn’t use it all that much I’d have to charge it every night, and often during the day too. There were annoying bugs: notifications wouldn’t appear, or would appear multiple times; the screen would randomly stop responding to touch input; software would freeze up and the watch hard-rebooted. I think I lasted 9 months, mostly out of sheer stubbornness. The last month of that, I’d switched back to iOS, and without an Android phone the 360 was practically useless – so I threw it in the metaphorical drawer.

So. The Series 3…

Let me start by saying I had low expectations. I went into this fully expecting to be returning the Apple Watch to my nearest store within a few days, maybe 2 weeks at most.

So colour me surprised when the Series 3 turned out to blow away all of my expectations. For reference, I bought the 42mm “Space Grey” aluminium-bodied watch, with the “dark olive” Sports Loop strap.

The first thing I want to say is this is the most comfortable anything I’ve worn around my wrist. The “Sports Loop” strap is fantastic. It’s soft, unlike nearly any other hook-and-loop strap I’ve worn previously, and has a little bit of stretch to it, so at no point have I felt like the strap is constricting my movements. I like it so much I’ve put 2 more on my wish list.

The watch body itself is so light, and the shape — for me — has been perfect. Maybe if I’d tried a rectangular watch I’d have managed to get into the watch habit before now? As far as size goes, the 42mm has been perfect. It feels small, but it’s deceptively big… without feeling big, if that makes sense?

The combination of low-weight and stay-out-of-the-way shape mean that on more than one occasion I’ve grabbed at my wrist because it feels like the watch isn’t there anymore.

It even looks nice. The Motorola looked fine if a little cheap. Other wearables have looked like toys. The Apple Watch looks positively amazing compared to them all. Granted, I have a soft-spot for black anodised aluminium which stretches back to my PC building days.

Oh, that controversial red dot on the Digital Crown? I really like it, on the Space Grey model at least (I haven’t seen it on the other models in person yet).

The “bulge” on the bottom of the body for the various sensors has the added benefit of keeping the watch in one place on my wrist. Once I tighten up and fasten the strap the watch just does not move unless I reposition it.

The only ergonomics “quibble” I have is the plastic tab at the end of the Sport Loop. It sometimes catches on my shirt when I go to check the time or a notification… and sometimes I’ve felt it when I’ve been typing. This seems to be dependant on the keyboard setup I’m using at the time. It’s more noticeable on the very small (65%) keyboard I use at home than with the full-size keyboard at the office.

Battery life has been a revelation. Most days I never dip below 75%, and some days it doesn’t go below 80%. I’ve had a conundrum about charging the watch every night – I want to extend the life of the battery as much as I can, so I should let it run down more often: maybe only charge it every second or maybe even every third night would be the way to go?

Now, to be fair here, I’m not exactly stressing the watch much. The only 3rd-party app I have installed is Dark Sky, for the watch face complication. I’m not using the headline feature of the Series 3 — LTE connectivity — as my carrier doesn’t support it yet. I am frequently checking notifications or the time (so turning on the screen quite a bit), using the movement and heart-rate tracking constantly, and using Siri semi-regularly to set timers or reminders and stuff. I haven’t tried using the watch as a music player (paired with my AirPods), as 1) any time I’d want to listen to music I’ll already have my existing phone setup with me, and 2) I mostly listen to podcasts these days, and podcast apps pretty much suck on the watch. It is something I’m going to try out at some point in the near future though.

But for now, it’s doing everything I want it to do, and it’s doing them without any fuss or bother. If I absolutely must pick out one quibble with the software it’s that the audible notifications volume setting seems to suddenly jump from inaudible to Really Very Loud. I’m still trying to find the right setting for me.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to try the Apple Watch was for the health tracking features. Already these have exceeded my expectations. The subtle (sometimes not so subtle) motivations the watch gives me have actually started to have an effect. I’m looking for ways to close out those rings: getting off the bus a stop early for a few more steps or the chance at a brisk walk; standing up regularly to stretch my legs. Even the Breathe app has been an unexpected hit with me – and I made fun of that app heavily when it was first announced. (Who didn’t?) I don’t use it as regularly as I maybe should, but the times I’ve remembered to it’s genuinely helped me feel more relaxed and focussed.

The only thing I’m really missing is a good way of tracking my sleep, something I know is a problem area for me. And maybe blood sugar monitoring, but rumours are that Apple is already researching this. If it does happen, hopefully it can be done with just a software update.

With the data from my watch feeding into the Health app on my iPhone and coupled with some data fed in from other apps, I’m starting to build a decent picture of my overall health and habits – and more importantly, started to make adjustments. Since wearing the watch, and making these admittedly small changes, I’ve managed to lose 5lbs. Still, a lot more to go (and weight isn’t the be-all-end-all of health), but it’s a start.

TL;DR

All of this is to say: the Apple Watch Series 3 is the first piece of wearable technology I actually believe in. It’s good, so much better than anything I’ve used before it’s almost comical. I didn’t expect to be this impressed with it, but here we are.

As something to wear, it’s light and comfortable, and the first anything I’ve managed to keep on my wrist without causing discomfort. WatchOS is doing everything I want it to do now, without any frustrations, and I still have more scope to dig into features I’m not using yet.

I enjoy my Apple Watch, which was not what I expected coming into this.


  1. Incidentally, it was delivered around 2 weeks ahead of what I was quoted when preordering. 

Recently I’ve been “[sunsetting][]” old email accounts I don’t really need any more. One of them was a private domain, and was hosted with Fastmail. In most cases I could have set up a simple forwarding rule from my domain registrar to my master email, but this one domain made extensive use of subdomains to filter and “tag” email from services — i.e. user@service.domain.com. Forwarding from the registrar would only catch mail at the top level. Everything else would return an error to the sender1. If I were to move the DNS to Cloudflare, like my other “active” domains, I wouldn’t be able to do even this basic forwarding; I’d have to setup my own mail server to handle the domain.

[sunsetting]:{{site.url}}{% link _posts/2017-09-08-sunsetting-a-decades-old-email-address.markdown %}

Running your own email server, in 2017, is a fool’s errand. I needed to find another way.

After a few evenings research, and weighing the pro’s and con’s of each approach, I settled on using Mailgun to route email2.

Step 1. Mailgun

Create your Mailgun account. Add your domain. Mailgun will encourage you to use a subdomain, but I didn’t. During the setup, you’ll be presented with several DNS records you need to add to Cloudflare – 2 TXT records, 2 MX records, and a CNAME record. Leave this tab open for now.

Step 2. Cloudflare

Add the domain to Cloudflare, if you haven’t already. Modify the DNS records to remove any previous MX records and add in the details Mailgun gave you. To get the subdomain email addresses to work, you also need to add 2 more MX records similar to these:

MX    *.domain.com    mxa.mailgun.org    10
MX    *.domain.com    mxb.mailgun.org    10

For some reason I also needed to add a wildcard A record (*.domain.com) to get things to work correctly. This might be a Cloudflare quirk.

Step 3. Back to Mailgun

Click through to finish adding the domain to your Mailgun account. Depending on DNS propegation timings, you might need to click the “Check DNS Records” button a couple of hours later, to verify the domain (usually it will only be minutes). Under Domain Settings, change Wildcard Domain to On.

Switch to the Routes screen. Create a Route. A “Catch All” type should be fine, but you can check out the Mailgun documentation to define more complex rules. Make sure the Forwarding checkbox is ticked, and enter your master email address as the destination. Set the priority to 10, give the Route a name, and click Create Route.

Use the Test Your Routes box to, well, test the route with a sample email address to make sure it will fire appropriately.

Step 4. There is no Step 4.

At this point you should be done. I needed to wait a few hours for the DNS records to propegate out to other services before test emails would arrive properly. But once DNS did its thing I was receiving email to my master address just like I had been in Fastmail.


  1. GMail, for example, tells you the subdomain doesn’t accept mail, using a nice, clear message. Other services are usually far less helpful. 
  2. Note that Mailgun appears to discourage you from using their service like this. 

I recently decided it was time to consolidate several email accounts, spread across multiple services, to one easily managed account. Some of these have been in use for over a decade. Some are “custom” domains, some are Gmail and other hosted services.

Partly this was for simplifying things — “what account did I use for signing up to that?” — partly it was to reduce the number of services I pay for every year (more on that in another post. Probably.) and partly it was to reduce my online “footprint” for privacy and security reasons. As a welcome side effect it would dramatically reduce the volume of spam I receive!

Importantly, my goal wasn’t to just redirect them all into yet another account. That would just lead to more juggling in the future. My goal was a full purge. I would have one master account and anything old would no longer exist.

Step 1. Identify What Was “To Go”

I had one fairly recent Gmail account which was practically never used, and had a decent address. I quickly settled on this as my new master account. Everything else was on the chopping block from this point on. This included some domains setup at FastMail which used some special setup to let me segregate each service I’d signed up to under its own subdomain address (i.e. user@service.domain.com). More on these domains in a later post.

I checked through my password manager to make sure I’d found all of the email services I had logins for, in case I’d forgotten about any.

Step 2. Secure the Master Account

Buy a Security Key. Use it. I followed these steps to get things setup so I have 2FA through either the key, or the authenticator app on my phone. This lets me avoid the backup SMS codes I’ve never really felt were particularly secure.

I really wish more services supported this setup, instead of limiting you to app + SMS. Or primarily SMS — yes, I’m looking at you, Twitter.

Step 3. Temporarily Redirect Everything to the Master Account

This was so I could categorise and prioritise the mail I was receiving. I applied a filter to incoming mail to tag it with the service it was forwarded from. From here I was able to identify where I had to put the most work in.

Step 4. Update Priority (Non-Email) Services

Mostly this involved going through my 1Password vault and updating anything I felt was important during the first pass. As many of the services used an email address as part of the login, I could search for each address in turn to cut down on the number of sites I’d have to update in each session.

Step 5. Purge Unnecessary Services

While I was updating services it was as good a time as any to delete any accounts which were idle. Using Just Delete Me sped the process up considerably. I think I’d cleared out 100 logins from my 1Password Vault by the end of the first week.

Step 6. Export Email Data

If it’s an old GMail account, you can use Google Takeout to download an archive of your mail. Other services vary, but the easiest way to grab an archive of your mail is to configure a desktop client, synchronise/download to your local computer, and then export from there. This is what I had to do with my Fastmail domains.

Step 7. Tidy-up

We’re in the final stretch now… with all the legwork out of the way, you’ll want to: make sure you’ve updated any friends, family, and contacts who would have the old email account; update any profiles or web pages where you have the email address listed; remove the account from devices, and basically remove as many references to the address as you can.

Step 8. Close the Email Account

This should be the obvious bit, but there might be some caveats… for example, with GMail you need to close the entire Google Account, taking any data in other Google services like YouTube with it. Some services make it harder than others to delete your account. If in doubt, check Just Delete Me, or try a search for “delete account.”

A clear, concise guide on using a hardware Security Key1 with a Gmail account. I didn’t even know it was possible to avoid using SMS as your backup second factor — thanks to this guide I have my Key as my main and the Authenticator app as backup. No SMS involved. (My phone number has since been removed from my Google account)

The official documentation/setup guide should really make this clearer.


  1. I use this simple FIDO/U2F key by Yubico (affiliate link) which is the key recommended in the guide. 

The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using.

I’ve been trying to stamp this out amongst my friends and family for as long as I can remember. The system is smart; let it do what it was designed to do.

For what it’s worth, nearly everyone I’ve corrected on this has at some point been a convert from Android.

External link: Public Service Announcement: You Should Not Force Quit Apps on iOS

1. Sublime Text (Portable) + Plugins

By using Sublime Text with the Sublime Jekyll and Git plugins allows me to write and publish posts from within a single app. By-and-large, Sublime is the “Admin UI” for this website.

I tried using other editors, but I just couldn’t get them to work the way I wanted them to work. Your mileage may vary though, so if you don’t feel Sublime is still worth the license fee, Visual Studio Code is good.

Using the portable version of Sublime lets me drop it into a USB stick/Dropbox/whatever and take my settings with me. 99% of the time this works seamlessly, but now and then I’ll run into an environment issue breaking the link between Git and Sublime. This isn’t that big of an issue though — I just open up a terminal session for all of the Git commands instead.

2. Setup Some Templates

Sublime Jekyll gives a lot of handy commands for quickly working with Jekyll — ctrl-shift-p jnp to start a new post was my most used for quite some time. But manually typing in all of the front matter except the title was a PITA. I use front matter for controlling the “style” of different post-types on the front page, so it is important to my setup. Then I found out about the ability to create templates, which speeded things up considerably.

To use templates, create a _templates folder in your Jekyll site. Create one or more markdown files in there to correspond to your various front matter defaults. $n can be used to set tab-stops. For example, here are my “Post” and “Link” templates respectively:

---
layout: post
title: 
date: $1
---
---
layout: link
title: 
date: $1
link_title: $2
link: $3
---

Note the tab-stop marker on date which lets me quickly insert the full, formatted, date and time using a Sublime Jekyll command

3. Git, plus a Commit Hook

I can’t always install Ruby + Jekyll on the environment I’m working on, so I offload the compilation of the site to the web server itself. To automate things, I manage the source files with Git, push changes to a repository on the server, and a commit hook fires whenever the server receives an update.

If you followed my post on [setting up a blog with Caddy and Jekyll][g], you might already have this setup. If not, the details can be found in this guide on Digital Ocean, which I linked to from there.

[g]:{{site.url}}{% link _posts/2017-06-26-start-a-blog-with-caddy-and-jekyll.md %}

4. Write

This bit I’m still working on improving my efficiency at…

A great post (part of a great series) from “Admiral Rob” on planning out your gaming purchases to save money and get maximum bang for your buck. Games like Warhammer 40,000 can be really expensive, but if you plan things out ahead of time you can really make some savings.

In our discussion on Twitter I pointed out another, related, way to save on new 40K armies: remember the spare parts/kits you already have. I’m terrible for starting a project and never finishing it for various reasons. I was thinking about reviving an old idea as a new army, pricing up all the kits I would have to buy. Then, when I was looking for something else, I found a bunch of old kits and sprues that — while not the shiny newest versions — would significantly cut down the amount of stuff I might need to buy. It’s totally fine to repurpose stuff from one project to another, if it means at least one of those projects getting finished.

So plan things out, remember what you already have, and spend smarter, not more.

I’m having a _lot_ of fun in Hitman. I’d go so far to say it’s surpassed _Hitman 2_ as my favourite entry in the series.
_Hitman 2_ was fun to play, but I never felt there was all that much replayability. Sure, you could go back and try a different approach, but you weren’t really rewarded for it. _Hitman (2016)_ has had me replaying the same level for days at a time, trying to beat all of the Challenges, get all of the Feats, and try out all of the Opportunities.
The approach I’m taking is to max out Mastery on each level and complete all of the Challenges/Feats/Opportunities before moving onto the next level, and I think it’s been the best approach to maximise my enjoyment of the game. Once I’ve done all of the levels then I will go back and play the Escalation modes and bonus missions.
Depending how much time I have in the evenings to do this, then I might be ready for the rumoured start of Season 2 in August…

I completely missed this when Agile Bits introduced their new 1Password.com product (which, admittedly, I didn’t really pay attention to), but standalone licenses for 1Password are no longer being marketed. If you want one, you have to email Support to get one.

As someone who’s bought multiple versions and upgrades of 1Password over the years, I’m a little torn over this. On the one hand, if there are genuine technical limitations caused by supporting standalone versions with local vaults, and the new platform provides a truely better experience, then great. On the other, I’m always wary of putting all my eggs in one basket… if Agile Bits were to suffer some catastrophe tomorrow then my standalone 1Password 4 and local vault wouldn’t be affected in any way at all. I’m mostly fine with the security aspects, as from what I can tell, even if they were to be breached, all a hacker could get would be an encrypted binary of your data.

Something for me to think about, I guess.

External link: 1Password Support Forum Thread

A powerful recount of Coraline Ada Ehmke’s terrible treatment at GitHub. Please take some time to read it.

I think back on the lack of options I was given in response to my mental health situation and I see a complete lack of empathy. I reflect on the weekly one-on-ones that I had with my manager prior to my review and the positive feedback I was getting, in contrast to the surprise annual review. I consider the journal entries that I made and all the effort I put in on following the PIP and demonstrating my commitment to improving, only to be judged negatively for the most petty reasons. I think about how I opened up to my manager about my trauma and was accused of trying to manipulate her feelings. I remember coming back from burying my grandmother and being told that I was fired.

GitHub has made some very public commitments to turning its culture around, but I feel now that these statements are just PR. I am increasingly of the opinion that in hiring me and other prominent activists, they were attempting to use our names and reputations to convince the world that they took diversity, inclusivity, and social justice issues seriously. And I feel naive for having fallen for it.

This isn’t the first time GitHub have run afoul of having a toxic internal culture. Perhaps ironically, it appears from my view that it was the “corporate” controls implemented after the previous fallout, combined with cultural issues and inexperience of how those controls are meant to be applied that led to the horrible experience.

I’ve done Staff Management in companies hundreds of times the size of GitHub; I recognise every tool and process mentioned in Coraline’s recount, and have been part of them numerous times. Each instance in this retelling seems to be a perversion of what is meant to be applied. Tools designed to help and protect everyone in involved in the process were turned against the party with the least power.

After my last post, I came across some discussion about implementing JSON Feed, and whether using a template is a good way to implement JSON Feed in a site. The concensus seems to be “No,” with one of the authors of the spec weighing in. For the most part, I do agree – a template is more likely to break under some edge case than a proper serializer – but until there is more support for the spec I see it as a pragmattic short-term solution. So proceed at your own risk for now!

I can’t take credit for this – I found the code below (from vallieres) after a quick search for adding feed.json to Jekyll without plugins. The only thing I’ve added is the sitemap front-matter which will exclude the output file from our sitemap.xml

---
layout: null
sitemap:
  exclude: 'yes'
---
{
    "version": "https://jsonfeed.org/version/1",
    "title": "{{ site.title | xml_escape }}",
    "home_page_url": "{{ "/" | absolute_url }}",
    "feed_url": "{{ "/feed.json" | absolute_url }}",
    "description": {{ site.description | jsonify }},
    "icon": "{{ "/apple-touch-icon.png" | absolute_url }}",
    "favicon": "{{ "/favicon.ico" | absolute_url }}",
    "expired": false,
    {% if site.author %}
    "author": {% if site.author.name %} {
        "name": "{{ site.author.name }}",
        "url": {% if site.author.url %}"{{ site.author.url }}"{% else %}null{% endif %},
        "avatar": {% if site.author.avatar %}"{{ site.author.avatar }}"{% else %}null{% endif %}
    },{% else %}"{{ site.author }}",{% endif %}
    {% endif %}
"items": [
    {% for post in site.posts limit:36 %}
        {
            "id": "{{ post.url | absolute_url | sha1 }}",
            "title": {{ post.title | jsonify }},
            "summary": {{ post.seo_description | jsonify }},
            "content_text": {{ post.content | strip_html | strip_newlines | jsonify }},
            "content_html": {{ post.content | strip_newlines | jsonify }},
            "url": "{{ post.url | absolute_url }}",
            {% if post.image.size > 1 %}"image": {{ post.image | jsonify }},{% endif %}
            {% if post.link.size > 1 %}"external_url": "{{ post.link }}",{% endif %}
            {% if post.banner.size > 1 %}"banner_image": "{{ post.banner }}",{% endif %}
            {% if post.tags.size > 1 %}"tags": {{ post.tags | jsonify }},{% endif %}
            {% if post.enclosure.size > 1 %}"attachments": [ {
              "url": "{{ post.enclosure }}",
              "mime_type": "{{ post.enclosure_type }}",
              "size_in_bytes": "{{ post.enclosure_length }}"
            },{% endif %}
            "date_published": "{{ post.date | date_to_xmlschema }}",
            "date_modified": "{{ post.date | date_to_xmlschema }}",
            {% if post.author %}
                "author": {% if post.author.name %} {
                "name": "{{ post.author.name }}",
                "url": {% if post.author.url %}"{{ post.author.url }}"{% else %}null{% endif %},
                "avatar": {% if post.author.avatar %}"{{ post.author.avatar }}"{% else %}null{% endif %}
                }
                {% else %}"{{ post.author }}"{% endif %}
            {% else %}
                "author": {% if site.author.name %} {
                "name": "{{ site.author.name }}",
                "url": {% if site.author.url %}"{{ site.author.url }}"{% else %}null{% endif %},
                "avatar": {% if site.author.avatar %}"{{ site.author.avatar }}"{% else %}null{% endif %}
                }
                {% else %}
                "{{ site.author }}"
                {% endif %}
            {% endif %}
        }{% if forloop.last == false %},{% endif %}
    {% endfor %}
    ]
}

Lately I’ve found myself enjoying the YouTube channel Outside XBox (and their sister channel, Outside Xtra). Normally what will happen is I’ll put a YouTube video on the TV as “background noise” and it ends up playing videos from the same channel for a few hours; in this case I ended up going down a rabbit hole of their Hitman videos. Whether it was the normal play throughs, the challenge modes, or the “3 ways to play”, I was hooked and wanted to play the game for myself. But I refuse to pay full price for a game that’s been out for a while, so it sat on my Steam Wishlist until last week, when it was discounted by 60% on the evening before the Steam Summer Sale.

I finally got round to playing Hitman today, and so far I’d say it’s got the potential to be the first game to really hold my attention in since Metal Gear Solid 5. I loved Hitman 2, and kept tabs on the ups and downs of the series after that, so having another game in the series feel as good as that one did is certainly welcome.

So far I’ve only completed the prologue missions (though I did replay the very first mission several times), so these are very early impressions. Fingers crossed the game holds up as I get further through it!

“We had no code and no art assets,” Blizzard 3D Art Director Brian Sousa confirmed to Ars Technica. The 2017 project’s entire art pipeline was “eyeballed,” Sousa said, with recovered concept artwork, sketches, and original boxes and manuals used as reference materials. Not all code was missing, as Blizzard has been issuing patches to the original game’s code base for nearly 20 years. Also, a member of the sound team thankfully had backups of the original sound and voice recordings, which are now reprocessed in higher-fidelity 44,100Hz format.

I’d heard the majority of the original Starcraft code had been lost, years ago, but I figured it was just a rumour. Sounds like the team of Starcraft: Remastered had a big task to recreate the game in a way some of its biggest fans would appreciate.

External link: StarCraft Remastered devs unveil price, explain how much is being rebuilt

I’ve listened to a lot of 40K podcasts over the last couple of years. Over that time I’ve slowly winnowed my subscriptions down to just a handful.

  1. Forge The Narrative – my favourite 40K podcast of the last few years.
  2. Chapter Tactics – from Frontline Gaming, but distinct enough from their other shows to merit its own subscription
  3. Frontline Gaming – this is the main Frontline Gaming Podcast – the feed also includes Chapter Tactics and some other smaller shows
  4. Ashes of the Imperium – this one is new, but it’s by the team behind the very good Bad Dice AoS Podcast

My biggest gripe with most 40K podcasts tends to be length. Sorry, but unless you’re very, very compelling to listen to, I am not going to listen to a Podcast episode which is 2-3 hours long (or more!). The Podcasts above tend to clock-in at around an hour to an hour and a half, which I find to be perfect to my listening habits.

Bonus: Podcasts I’m Evaluating:

8th Edition has brought about a few new Podcasts, some of which I’m still deciding if they’re going to stay in my subscriptions list.

Bonus 2: Some Age of Sigmar podcasts

For a while I found the quality of the AOS podcasts to be in general higher than most 40K podcasts, with only a couple of exceptions. Sadly, my favourite AOS podcast — Heelanhammer — has recently gone on hiatus so I’m not including it here.

  • Bad Dice
  • Facehammer – can be a bit sweary, so proceed under advisory if that’s not your thing.