Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Five-Fold and Leadership (as opposed to five-fold leadership)

I was pondering, on the drive back from cell this evening, about how a good leader in any field has the properties of all five-fold “office” ministry gifts. Here’s a quick summary, I’ll expand when it’s not 30 minutes after I should be sleeping:

  • Pastoral – easy, a leader cares for the people he’s leading. A more modern and forceful take on this is that a pastor takes an interest in the individuals – even if it requires scolding, fighting or pushing people (gently, mind!) past what they think they can achieve.
  • Teaching – leaders need to both teach and learn – learn new ways of doing things from those they lead, and teach the existing methods. Leaders who are incompetent in the field they lead rapidly gain a reputation as such, and their reputation wanes, resulting in less effective leadership.
  • Evangelism – a good leader doesn’t find a crowd heading in a direction and gets in front of it. A good leader has a vision, drive and a plan. With these, and a bit of boldness, a leader can recruit those who share the vision. A leader who can’t recruit is typically a leader who isn’t forceful or driven enough.
  • Apostolic – leadership is a universal trait. A good leader in one field can often be transplanted from one scenario and/or field into another. Leadership which is dependant on scenario often smacks of stagnation and a lack of dynamism – no leadership is going on, you just have a great team who ignore you.
  • Prophetic – speaking what is instead of what we perceive is a terribly difficult task for most, but it is essential for any form of leadership. When a team is failing (in their own eyes) and a leader can say with authority and authenticity that this is a short-term problem or something they’ve survived before, the leader is operating in prophecy. Lying and exaggerating destroys the trust this is based on, but so is speaking negatively over the scenario. Work out how to speak relevant truth, and if it can’t be uplifting, then let it encourage towards solving the problem.

*Yawn*. Off to bed, but I’m glad I’ve got this thought down :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh Wow

A blog post!

Life has been pretty crazy lately. I’m currently working on a terribly complicated project for my company that does software development for 1Time airlines. I’ve spent the last two weeks up to my ears in SRS’s and technical specifications, which confirm what I’ve always thought (IS is a terrible, terrible things which only makes software development more painful if the developers are competent, or merely brings incompetence up to manageability if the developers are not).

I’ve been playing in an awesome RPG campaign run by my new DM Guy, and I’ve just recently started one of my own, set in the epic Ravenloft world.

I’m still hating Johannesburg with every fibre of my being, but at least it’s moved from “I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS EVIL PLACE!” to merely never wanting to come back when I inevitably move away.

I’ve had loads of interesting chats with the ChattyDM himself, and he’s thrown me a few bones and dropped my name on a few tweets or blogposts. Thanks Phil!

I’ve been trying to cook and bake as time allows, and I’ve made a few great recipes up – but I’m still struggling terribly to make cafe-grade iced coffee :( I bought a blender JUST for this purpose, but can’t get it nice and thick like I was hoping for.

I’ve been playing old games again, a terrible habit I must stop soon! Neverwinter Nights (original of course!), Dwarf Fortress, and on the console Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and quite a bit of Pokemon – I had a guy at work the other day insist that this is the most astonishing thing he’s come across in a while!

I’m missing varsity, I won’t lie. The freedom, and the time to do what I want to do is a part of it, but mostly it’s the people – people who want to learn, who aren’t just learning to finish today’s task. Of course, that’s an attribute, but I’m also missing terribly all my friends from Grahamstown, my former lecturers, and so on.

But now that I’ve updated you all on my life a bit, I’m going to quickly post something up (I’ve got a few thoughts to share) on my other blog, before messing around a little more. This has been my first non-crazy-busy night in quite a while, and I plan on enjoying it!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Call of Cthulhu ICON Game Account

WARNING - For those of you who actively dislike gore, fighting, and disturbing scenes, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

I make no promises that this is an accurate transcript - but rather, an account - the best of my knowledge. I've put off telling this tale (or spinning this yarn) for too long, and my memory is cloudy at best.

This is the tale of the Call of Cthulhu game I played at ICON 2009. Before the story can be told, first my character must be explained. And before even that can happen, the scene must be painted.

It is the modern day. The world is largely like what you know of it - only the largest, scariest, most bizarre things are different.
A scientist, studying Roanoke, an old American Indian settlement on an island off the coast of the US, goes missing on a research trip. Particularly, his research focuses on a potential link between the alien "greys" and the people of the area.
Four people who have an interest in the case have a chance encounter, and begin to investigate the mystery.

My character was a young gentleman from Harlem named Lewis Johnson. His story begins with rebellion against authority: firebombing police stations, graffiti, sticking it to The Man.
It was around this time that he realized that he could never out-muscle the government, but he COULD outsmart them. So he became a serial killer.
He was successful in his killing spree - but was continually denied the fame that he desired. He desired the killer nickname, the reputation of fear.
And so Lewis began studying forensics, and the serial killers of history. He eventually read about the infamous Jack the Ripper, and finally discovered the pattern that would make him famous - copycat killing.
Lewis' study of criminals and forensics had, in the meantime, become formal education. Deciding not to chance his luck, he dropped out of the forensics class - but discovered that he did have an excellent way with words - so he transferred his credits, and studied instead to become a hostage negotiator, an area in which he excelled. He successfully graduated, and joined the FBI.
One member of his former forensics class was a lady named Nicolette Farris. One day, when Lewis was coming to gloat over his kills at the local morgue, he discovered Nicolette studying the bodies. Thankfully for Lewis, he was worrying an opera mask and a full cloak (as odd as this would look on the streets of a city), and managed to tranquilize the woman before she could raise an alarm. He then placed her to wake up on the slab, like all the other corpses, neatly arranged.
And so he began terrorizing the life of the investigator of his case - as sport, and as entertainment.
Three years after his graduation from FBI training, and he has never seen Nicolette "outside of character" since. Until he was assigned to this case on Roanoke, where they are paired to discover the truth of the disappearance of this researcher.

The story began with us all boarding the ferry to get to the island. "Us" being the researcher's wife, the police chief of Roanoke island, and the two FBI agents - Lewis and Nicolette.
As we waited for the ferry to leave, Nicolette and I felt watched. Looking around, we noticed someone on the upper deck, with dark glasses, large hat and deep coat staring directly at us. As he saw us look, he bolted. Nicolette and I bolted towards the nearest staircase. I caught up to the suspicious person first, and tackled him to the ground. Nicolette, not knowing what to do, waited for my lead. I grabbed my cuffs, and, to the crowds dismay, declared this man to be a wanted terrorist [I panicked and it was an easy excuse in a modern American setting!]. The crowd immediately reacted in shock and fear. Before anything else could happen, we dragged the man into the only private area we could get on the boat - the wheelhouse.
The other two joined us, as well as the captain of the ferry - who had to be present, to steer the ferry, and continually added racist comments (Lewis and local police chief were both non-white).

The suspicious gentleman turned out to be a member of the Roanoke city council - and damned suspicious too! After a few simple questions, he demanded a lawyer would only respond as such to any line of questioning posed. We were stymied in our investigation, but the researcher's wife, a woman of education, determined that the gentleman was not in a sane state of mind. Nicolette, as a forensics researcher, had enough equipment and experience to do a simple blood test and a preliminary investigation revealed that the man had been drugged over a period of decades using psychotropics. Before we could investigate any further, the man went into anaphylactic shock. We searched his person and found some of the herbal "medicine" that he had been taking, and administered it after determining that he was suffering withdrawal symptoms. We left him, unconscious, to be picked up by members of the local police force and drove in the police chief's cruiser to the site of the researchers disappearance.

We discovered a city, built into a gigantic cave in a rock-cliff. Vehicles and trailers were standing, empty, and a variety of crude buildings dotted the interior of the cave.
We initially entered the main trailer, where the crew had set up and began to search the trailer. Immediately apparent was the mess of video recordings scattered over the floor, marked with dates. The researcher's wife picked up the most recently marked recording, and put it into the video player.
What she discovered was a tape of her husband in... a compromising situation with his research assistant. Outraged, she skipped forward. Her husband, after his indiscretion, left, but shortly afterwards a stunningly beautiful naked woman entered. Before the assistant could react, the beautiful woman kissed her - and she instantly became withered and drawn, eventually, crumbling to dust. At this point, everyone in the trailer began to feel a sense of dread and fear slowly rising.
The police chief, in the meantime, had investigated elsewhere. He discovered an old well, partially filled with debris, and with the sound of running water below. He continued to poke around, and eventually called us out of the trailer. We all came out for air, and took a few moments to regain our composure, before remembering the task that we were on.
We began to investigate the buildings. Most appeared derelict and empty, but one, farthest from the vehicles, housed people - or so it seemed, for we heard a scream as we approached. Immediately, I leapt towards the house, but before I could come near, a gigantic shower of dirt erupted, and a previously hidden plant emerged from a sinkhole, sharp vines whipping towards me! It tore up my chest rather badly, and I just managed to edge away.
Nicolette, armed with a shotgun, and the police chief, armed with an automatic pistol, began to fire at the monstrous plant. I managed to get back up to my feet, and limp back to a nearby building, near where I had placed my backpack. I dug around and found a blowtorch that I had used for some... interesting... reasons, and, without thinking too hard about it, lit it and ran back to the plant. Tossing the blowtorch at the plant resulted in it's immediate immolation - the plant fell dead, lifeless to the ground.
The crying in the building however, continued. Stopping for a minute so that Nicolette could study and clean my wounds, we proceeded inside. Moments after opening the door we realized that the ancient wood was on fire, and the building was likely to be ashes in just a few minutes!
We raced upstairs to discover the missing researcher and an asian lady, both grasping what appeared to be a map, pulling to try to drag it from the other.
Before we could respond, Nicolette dropped the asian woman with a pistol whip. The man, in the mean-time, ran to his wife, but not before carefully rolling up the map. He was met with a slap through the face, and an admonishment for his infidelity.
He explained that the Roanoke indians worshipped a deity named Dagon [I believe I was the only one at the table who had read Cthulhu Mythos stuff before, because I immediately groaned, while everyone else was like "WTF? Who is Dagon - that's Babylonian, isn't it?]. Several hundred years later, they were invaded by an unknown race that introduced a new, demonic god - Lillith. Lillith had since been re-awakened by trespassers (the research team) and had to be killed - apparently, after I asked, gods can be killed with sufficient firepower.

Alright then.

Us FBI folk, being slightly more mentally stable, were prepared to drive off into the sunset. Eventually, we were talked into investigating further by the researcher. While he studied the map further, we looked at what used to be a set of stables. Inside, we found a sack - of some modern material, so it must have been left there recently! The researchers wife opened the bag only to be greeted by the terrible features of Dagon himself! The sheer terror of it all eventually made her snap - she screamed, turned, and ran out through the nearby cave entrance. None of us tried to stop her, for our eyes had caught what hers had not - the statue was made of gold! We dug around and found more mundane treasures, which we left for the researchers to look at later.
[In the mean time, crazy researcher-wife lady, now on zero sanity, heard a voice booming in her head to kill Lillith. She had no choice but to continue to run, screaming, BACK TOWARDS THE CAVE]
Finally, the researcher came to us and showed us that the map indicated that Lillith was *in* the abandoned well. Deciding to be wise and knowing that emergency evacuation might be necessary, one of the researcher's vehicles (a 4x4 with an electric winch and steel cable) was driven next to the well, and it was agreed that a party would be lowered into the well while someone stood on top to haul everyone back up in case of emergency. The researcher insisted on remaining safe and hid in the vehicle.
As the party was preparing to be lowered into the well, the researcher's wife came running BACK into the cave, screaming, run up to the well, started climbing over, tripped, fell, and broke her leg on the debris as the went down. She found herself in a short, dark passageway underground, with water running in a stream next to her.
In the meantime, a short game of rock-paper-scissors resulted in myself staying up at the top, and Nicolette and the police chief going into the tunnel.
I lowered them down, and waited.
[They arrived in the dark tunnel, to discover a squad of fishmen approaching. The police chief recognized them as a race worshiped by the local indian tribes, and understood enough of their croaked speech to make out that Lillith was behind a door at the end of the passageway. The party continued on and discovered the door, which opened only when the researcher's wife touched it.
Inside, they found a modern bedroom, with a stunning, naked woman inside. The researcher's wife gibbered a bit more, and everyone else was paralyzed for a moment in absolute terror and worship of the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. Then the police chief shot the thing with his automatic machine pistol.
Skin was ripped and peeled back as the thing revealed it's true form - a gigantic scaled monster, easily twenty feet tall. The party, now suitably terrified, fired machine pistol and shotgun shell after shotgun shell into the creature.]
Standing by the well, I heard gunfire below and an inhuman roar. Having examined the contents of the trailer earlier, I had discovered several sticks of dynamite. Not feeling particularly keen to MEET an inhuman monster, I collected some dynamite, lit it, and tossed it down the well.
[The researchers wife, with a broken leg, managed to drag herself to Lillith, and started to strike at it with a panga she lifted off the police chief. Eventually, the bullets and cuts affected Lillith, who fell to the ground, dead - but not before making a final swipe, tearing the researchers wife into pieces. Before Lillith's corpse hit the ground, the earth began to shake and the tunnel began to cave in. The party ran for the tunnel. Nicolette, suffering from extreme claustrophobia, almost had a panic attack, but managed to dig down deep and make it through. As the reached the tunnel entrance, a stick of lit dynamite fell at their feet...]
Thankfully, the falling had put out the lit dynamite, as moments after dropping it I heard the party calling below. I quickly lifted both of them out, and we piled into the car to drive away. As we left the rapidly caving-in mountain, I turned to the (previously empty) passenger seat to look back and see if the other passengers in the vehicle were alright - only to discover the researcher's wife in the seat next to me, perfectly healthy and sane!
[She couldn't remember anything since seeing the statue of Dagon, but a deep voice rang in her head "THIS IS YOUR REWARD FOR KILLING THE USURPER"]. I gibbered [and finished the game on 2 sanity after losing 8 from the shock of seeing her alive].

Game over.

In retrospect, I wish I'd played up the serial killer thing a bit more :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Adventures in Jo'burg #4

1 For the fourth instalment of "Adventures in Jo'burg", I did something I've always wanted to do: I went to a geek con. The con in question was ICON, which featured lots of Magic: the Gathering, Warhammer and Warhammer 40 000, some LAN gaming (more on that later), some RPGs (more on that later), some LARPing, some cosplaying, and a great big vendor hall full of anime, comic, geek, art and other goodness. And *astonishingly attractive* goth/cat girls.

costume_20 For those who are interested, it seems that is the place to go to find out information about ICON. And while I'll post some pics shamelessly scraped from their site (and which are years old), if you want to see more, check out their gallery.

So I arrived, early (too early as it turns out), and had to wait outside as one of the organisers attempted comic relief in the form of deriding attendees who weren't into his gaming (RPGs, as it turns out) at the top of his lungs. Warhammer, Magic, etc. where targets of abuse. But everyone chuckled, so it was fine.

5I was attending because I had passed the preliminary  rounds for the Mayhem Dawn of War 2 competition. I was looking forward to some solid gaming, and was completely let down. The players I was competing with were beyond excellent - the two who beat me (I eventually came third) thoroughly deserved to win, as their skills in the game completely outclassed my own. But the room was continually noisy (incredibly distracting when you're playing a game which revolves around intense focus), the computers provided were of a poor quality (I had to adjust the monitors myself because the organisers didn't know that the wide-screen monitor used had a native resolution of 1440x900, DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT BELONGED TO ONE OF 2 THEM - and was dirty, to the point of making it hard to make out what was on the screen), and the competition was poorly organised - the match-ups where decided on the day, there was no proper announcement of prizes (in fact they still haven't announced if I won anything for third place, two days after I achieved it), so overall I was unimpressed by the competition.

Then I investigated RP. I love roleplaying games (I have another blog all about it, in fact), and this was really exciting to me - seeing other people playing, finding different points of view on how the games are played costume_15 and so on.

I registered, and quickly discovered that, as expected, geeks are anti-social. Until I was put into a group with other players, and while the GMs (game masters, the story tellers in RPGs) where reading their source material - a process that takes between 15 and 45 minutes, we all stood around awkwardly if we did not have a large crowd of friends handy (which I don't, being an East Londoner and all). Eventually we got together and we had a great game - we played Call of Cthulhu (a first for me, but something I've always wanted to do), and I enjoyed myself immensely. Afterwards, I was so dog tired, I slouched off home and passed out.

Some highlights from ICON when I wasn't competing or RP'ing:

  • Cosplayers. There were several. A guy I knew in s5 the competition introduced me to two catgirls, carrying their doggie slaves. Guys in wode, tieflings (complete with tiny little horns), Yomiko Readman. Not to mention - in case you missed it - CRAZY ATTRACTIVE GOTH GIRLS.
  • Chatting with the comic-book vendors. I've read enough over the last four years that I can generally match them in conversation. One of them looked like he was about to cry when I pointed out that I asked for Warren Ellis, not Garth Ennis, because he'd got them mixed up.
  • Realizing that I'll never have enough money to dedicate to the hobbies I'd like to have. 40k artbooks at R500. D&D manuals at R480. Boardgames going for over R1000. If I picked up all the books I wished I owned there, I could easily have spent about as much as I have recently started paying off on my car.
  • At one point during RP, one of the GMs (tiefling cosplayer, actually) started running around the big tent screaming (in a high-pitched voice) for about thirty seconds. Compete silence (from everyone else) reigned as all eyes turned to him. After finishing and quietening down, he sat back at the table and said (loudly) something like "and that was what the little girl did when you took her teddy bear".

All in all? I'll go there again, if I'm still in town this time next year. It's expensive, and I'll never compete in a Mayhem competition again, but ICON was pretty frickin' awesome :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Adventures in Jo'burg #3

I've taken a short break from Adventures in Jo'burg because - frankly - life has been quite quiet. Also, work has been busy :)

Today I won't speak about any particular day. I want to take about a daily adventure: driving the streets of Johannesburg.

Now, I'm "hip", and "with it". I've played my fair share of Need for Speed (pick your flavour: Underground, Carbon, Most Wanted, Undercover). I'm good at travelling aggressively and fast. I'm also good at leaving that stuff at home, because I remember how often I've driven into walls at 120kph.

But nothing I've done could prepare me for Jo'burg roads. And you know what the main problem is? I'm a good person. Jo'burg drivers expect you to take every gap, no matter how suicidal it is. I've had guy centimeters from my back bumper, when I'm doing 80kph (in an 80kph zone) - if I'd slowed down at all, I would've been discussing insurers with them.

I've also discovered that the city of Johannesburg hates me. This time, I'm not referring to the people - though they loathe me too. The city itself - brick, mortar, electronics - hates me. I've yet to meet a robot (that's traffic lights to you from far away) that does not change to orange the second I've gotten to within five seconds drive of it.



That's the most frustrating time for it to happen, I'm not kidding. It means two things:

  1. Getting through the robots while maintaining speed is juuuuuust out of reach. You'll never make it on time, unless you go at least 20kph above the speed limit.
  2. You always spend the maximum period of time waiting at robots.

At the insistence of a friend who also drives Jo'burg daily, I've pushed through robots if it turns red as I go over the line. It's effective, but I feel both guilty and in extreme danger as I go through.

But back to the people of Johannesburg hating me - in case it wasn't immediately apparent, I believe in following the speed limit to the best of my ability. This is a lot more challenging in Jo'burg than you'd think. The number of frustrated drivers who have flashed brights, honked, and eventually just drove AROUND me in frustration (in single lane roads!) is getting worryingly high.

Add to all of this that I'm still learning Jo'burg, and live bordering on a "dodgy" area, so I do not want to stop and ask for directions, and when I drive I'm almost always nervous and hyper-tense.

But I like driving. And Jo'burg has some interesting places to go to.

Now if I could just find a vendor that sold Go boards...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Adventures in Jo'burg #2

5224479 Today's anecdote shall cover yesterday's fear, tribulation and challenge - Bruma Flea Market!

Bruma Flea Market (or "Marketworld" as I believe it has been termed) is (I'm told) one of the largest flea markets in Jo'burg, if not South Africa. I'm not sure if I believe that completely, but it is indeed massive. The only real thing it compares to is the annual Village Green flea market during the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. It runs six days a week (Tuesday to Sunday) - I tried to find it last week, and, sadly, missed the forest for the trees - I drove right past it, decided that I couldn't find the damned thing, turned around and came right back (well, actually, went to Eastgate mall for lunch, but you get the gist).

It is also the only flea market I have ever been to (though I'll admit I haven't been to many) that you have to pay for entrance. It's well worth it though! R4.50 gives you endless harassment, street theatre, harassment, and opportunity for great bargains.

bruma-flea-market Yes. It's a cheesy way to phrase it, but you get harassed *that much*. If you walk down the wrong alley (this place has alleys), you'll get ambushed by a half dozen traders insisting that you visit their stalls. They'll choose an item at random, and insist that you purchase it. When you refuse, they state an obscene price (sometimes - to be honest, sometimes the prices where pretty good). When you continue on your way, they'll drop 25% off the price. Then another 25%. Finally, if you continue on your way (with a deaf ear turned to the "But chief, this elephant carving took me days, won't you look at it again? Only R250! Please chief, support me, I haven't eaten in days."), they'll leave you alone to feel like the absolute heel that you are.

However. I got to see my first ever street theatre - some contortionist/dancers who were excellent for street theatre folk - if they joined a circus troupe or professional group somewhere, and spent a little time polishing their act, I would gladly pay R100 entrance to a show of theirs. I also saw a gentleman who styled himself a contortionist and comedian, who dragged an innocent young man out of the audience and proceeded to shamelessly embarrass the man - but he did some great stuff with a ring that was (partially) on fire, and could lie chest-down on the ground and pick up a hat and glasses with his feet and put them on his head/face by bending his torso into a near full-circle. When I say the man is spineless, I'm being entirely literal :)


I also got to see some youths doing what appeared to be a tribal dance, though frankly I've seen much better amateur stuff.

But! No-one attends a flea-market for the shows - they attend for the bargains! What did I find, you ask?

Well, frankly, nothing. About four-fifths of the items on offer were for tourists (it was the big signs saying "dollars, euros, other major currencies accepted here" that gave it away). Sculptures of little African heads, tall and thin sculptures of African warriors, sculptures of elephants. Beaded wire cars. Wooden boards with (you guessed it) African-sculpted chess pieces. Paintings of (waaaaaait for iiiiiiit) African warriors. And so many DVD, CD and computer hardware shops it would blow your mind. Wait, what? Yes, you can get your games and music here, as well as a new laptop, speakers, and a neon-pink wig at the stall next door. 'cause, you know, it's epic.

All of the food stalls (all of them!) proudly declare themselves halaal. Not that I mind, I prefer halaal food (amongst other things, this means that the animals were treated well [or, at least, better than non-halaal] before being slaughtered). Of course, most of the places just took this overboard - falafels, schwarmas, and other fun-to-pronounce food types where the order of the day. I had what was marketed as a "pizza pie", which I assumed was the correct term, but turns out to mean "calzone". Meh, it was nice :D

But I'm now inspired to shop at this place for birthdays, Christmasses and other gift-type events in future. Tacky African Warrior sculptures for *everybody*!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Adventures in Jo'burg #1

My sister, bless her heart, is convinced that I should blog my experiences here in Johannesburg. Some are negative commentaries on the city, some are funny.

While today had it's own adventure (Bruma Flea-market), this entry will be about yesterday.

I recently got a car. I've been in Jo'burg for three months now. Three months, in the biggest city (arguably) in the country, without any automotive means of transport. Lifts to work have been available, but that's pretty much it.

At one point my work-lift offered me a chance to go to one of the few things I've really been excited about since I've moved here - the chance to go to South Africa's premier comic book, fantasy/sci-fi fiction, RPG shop, The Outer Limits. I went, I was a little disappointed (I expected it to be bigger), but ultimately was very happy to find a place that catered for my interests.

So I decided, what with my new car and all, to drive there, maybe pick up a comic or two, and drool over the painfully expensive RPG books.

Here's the problem: I don't know Jo'burg. At all.

I live in Kensington, which is pretty far south-east of city center. Eastgate Mall is a long work or short drive down a major road. I work in Rosebank, which is a little west-south-west of city center. My church is a few blocks away from where I work.

That's all I know, in terms of directions. A little of Rosebank, a little of Kensington, and exactly one (1) route between the two.

Now, Outer Limits is in Melville. Which is far enough that I'd certainly get lost going back streets. So armed only with a map book and four days of research on, I ventured on to the M3. Heads-up: I've never driven on Jo'burg highways before (I go via back-streets to work/church, and Eastgate is close enough that I don't need to use a highway). Let's just say that people are not happy with speed limits in this city while I obey them to the best of my ability... and this resulted in my complete lack of popularity on South African roads.

I survived the highway (despite it's best efforts), and got off at the Crown Interchange, which is to say that the M2 petered out and became (IIRC) Main Reef road. I took a few turns, got lost, consulted the map book, got confused, got unconfused, and got on to the right road.

Now, on, and on the Outer Limits website, their address is given as 8 Main Road. If you take the route I took, you end up on Brixton, followed by a few other streets, and the road eventually becomes Main Road, after which it becomes Ontdekkers. I drove up Main Road, found number 8, and... it was a gigantic mall. Outer Limits, from previous experience was a shop facing the street, off a raised pavement.

Suddenly: Confusion, panic, paranoia. Had they moved? Had they closed shop?

Saddened by this news, I trekked back to Kensington to sulk in my flat. Cue more M3 antics, people hooting on normal roads as I consulted my map book to find out where I was, and driving past a large group of protestors on Queen Street, toyi-toyi'ing and holding placards I couldn't read because of the police cars in the way.

So, finally arriving home from TWO HOURS on the road, getting lost, finding my way, getting lost again and finally getting nothing for my troubles, I consult with a friend of mine over IM, who informed me that Melville has *two* Main Streets. That intersect. And that I was about two blocks from the shop I was trying to find., in fact, guessed which Main Street Outer LImits was on, and got it wrong. I had spent an exhausting morning searching and getting nothing, because I trusted you Google. You fail me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Business Idea #1

I've been really inspired to come up with a variety of means of support for South Africa in terms of the Internet and networking. The Great Enemy of All Mankind is the local privatised telecoms provider, and the price of bandwidth is truly absurd. As a result, creative means are generally put in place to avert paying an arm and a leg for data.

Business Idea:

My business plan is simple - for R15 a month (or something along those lines), users are given access to an "intelligent proxy". This proxy determines the most popular downloads, and makes longer-term caches based on demand. Using ISPs which can intelligently route between local and international bandwidth, users can make use of the proxy for very little, and (because of the rich-club phenomenon of Internet downloads) probably have most of their largest downloads cached locally.

As the subscriber base increases, the amount that can be invested in (a) cache drive space and (b) international bandwidth costs increases, making the service more valuable as more members join, as the quantity of data cached will increase.

The intelligent proxy has several flaws:

  1. Streaming media is obviously going to present a problem
  2. Direct communication won't be affected - sending files via email/IM is not going to be helped
  3. Obviously, as the subscriber base increases, so will the demand for "niche" items. While Windows Updates will be common early on, DirectX 11 development libraries will probably only have a small following. These will be possible to pull later in the service as subscribers grow, but early on it will still pose problems.

Business Idea Series

In an effort to stimulate my interest in blogging again, I'm going to brainstorm as often (hopefully daily) as I can business ideas.

I have a friend who wants to turn each of these into a business, and wouldn't want me "wasting" them on a public blog, but I honestly believe that the potential for creativity in every sphere of life is unlimited. Especially given limitations, as these help shape and form basic ideas into concrete plans.

I will probably never translate these ideas into actual plans, nor follow-through on them, so I'm putting the ideas in the public domain - feel free to criticize, copy, revise and republish them. What I would appreciate, if possible, is a tip of the hat and a good reference, if they actually come to anything :)

So enjoy - hopefully you'll find something useful amongst the ideas, and turn ??? into profit!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thundercats Fans Made of Win

Just... there are no words. You must see:

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ted Haggard on Oprah

Reading through Steve's blog, I came across a link which I thought would be quite interesting.

Charisma magazine had an article about Ted Haggard, an outspoken American pastor, who confessed to employing male prostitutes. The article is an uplifting compliment to his defense when he appeared on Oprah.

I subsequently asked my friendly local neighbourhood small-videos-on-the-Internet provider about the same. I've since concluded that the only thing I appreciate about Ted Haggard is the one moment mentioned in the Charisma article. In the words of a friend: "Stop being on my side!"

Barring one or two moments throughout the interview, he is continually taking a weak stance, trying to avoid stating any hard truths.

In fact, it was his *wife* who became outspoken and laid out the smack-down, so major props to her. Madame, you have my respect.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So... Conflicted...

This blog, if you scroll halfway down, has a comic. A comic about Jesus Christ, at the crucifixion. And I just can't decide whether the blasphemy is so serious as to offend me and stop me appreciating the sheer quantity of AWESOME that goes with it...

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Monday, January 19, 2009

World Domination Toys

Irunno, Dr. Steel looks an aaaaawful lot like a certain, number-named, angry ANGRY furry mascot (did I mention that he's angry?). Just look at any videos where he's shaved off his hair and you'll see the resemblance.

However, World Domination Toys looks like a winner - the vaguely Steampunk-ish feel, the concept - I dig it. If I had money, I would totally buy from there :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yahtzee in TV Pilot

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, famous for his searing reviews and wit in his "Zero Punctuation" videos for the Escapist e-magazine, has produced a pilot episode of a TV show with fellow Internet personalities Matt and Yug, named Game Damage.

I watched it (and consumed about a third of my allotted bandwidth quota) and thought that, while it appears to be entertaining and witty, it had two grand


  1. It seemed very unpolished. A lot of um'ing and ah'ing, but it's forgivable for a sequel and something that looks like it was written a week before and skimmed over by the presenters, then done off-the-cuff on the day of filming.
  2. Yahtzee comes off as scaring and/or intimidating the other two. This immediately strips him of the geek fandom, most of whom got over bullies after the millionth time they were wedgied in high-school.

All in all, I liked it, and would watch it as a series.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

*My* Kinda Roshambo

This is the way Roshambo should be played, people:

Rock Paper Scissors made complicate

Image courtesy of my friend "Fluffy", original URL.

Of course, if that's gives you a headache, consider the simpler (though still sufficiently complicated to get most peoples' heads spinning) alternative: Rock Paper Scissors Spock Lizard. I came across it watching an episode of the amazing "The Big Bang Theory". Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dawn of War II on DRM

From here:

Strategy Informer: Now this is a standard question that we always ask, but what do you have lined up in terms of expansion packs and DLC?

Jonny Ebbert: We have a lot of seriously exciting plans for DLC. We really want to give our players a top-notch online experience and we want to reward our players for playing our game. We want to give out steady doses of free downloadable content because we believe in rewarding people who buy the game and the reason we don’t like DRM solutions is because they punish the innocent and they have to jump through all these hoops. We don’t want to do that so we’re going with the approach that Valve pioneered to just reward the people who actually bought the game with cool stuff. Free downloadable, regularly accessible stuff that enhances the game and then that’s an incentive for the people who didn’t buy the game to buy it. So we’ve got a really bold, robust strategy for that and we’re going to be revealing more details in about a month, but I think players are going to like it. And everybody wins you know? The people who paid for the game don’t have to go through any fuss and they’re constantly getting new stuff, which keeps the game fresh.


No, really.

I mean, I don't need a reason to love Relic more than the original Dawn of War. Dawn of War II has me frothing in places that people prefer me not to describe, and then they do this.

This is, in a nutshell, the opposite to what EA Games (the mega-game publisher who purchases up gaming companies like a fat kid sucks up chocolate). EA is a fan of "punish the universe at large because pirates exist" - and I'd recommend reading Shamus' blog on the topic.

Relic publishes their stuff with THQ - and boyohboy am I amped that they've Got It Right.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Malstrom on Game Design, Casual vs. Hardcore and so on.

This is a link to any interested, I'll refrain from commentary at this stage:


Quick blurb: Malstrom analyses the trend of game developers focusing on the "casual gaming boom", and shows how Nintendo is Doing It Right by establishing and developing their user base rather than focusing on a specific level of gamer.