Stones (Ultima Theme) by David R Watson on Jeff Wilmott's 4-hole pendant ocarina

A couple of months ago, I picked up this really cute little ocarina at the St Kilda Beach market, from Jeff Wilmott's stall.

I call it my baby hamster, because I clutch it and it squeaks. >.>

One thing led to another, and before long, I acquired a rather large Focalink Triple Dolce AC ocarina, which I call my 'Fat Hamster'. On account of it being well... bigger and fatter! Last Sunday, I brought my fat hamster down to Jeff's stall for him to have a look and a feel. He very kindly gave me his songbook, which I have used for the nefarious purpose of putting together an ocarina score for David R. Watson's Stones - more commonly known as 'the Ultima theme'.

And here's me tootling it on my lovely little baby hamster. Any ickiness you hear is due to my noobness, and not the little ocarina I'm tootling on. This is the first tune I learned to play on the baby hamster, and I was too shy to play more than the first few bars in front of Jeff. *scuffle*

Big thanks to Jeff for setting me on the path to hamster... I mean ocarina love! =)

Lovely fatty gelatinous LAZY rice cooker pig trotters of braised doooooooooooooooom!

I looooooooooooooove animal fat! Fried, baked, stewed, boiled, broiled, cold from the fridge (mmm butter), melted in my tea (mmm cream) - glorious animal faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!

I also love food where the majority of the 'cooking' involves me ignoring it while I go kill mobs. XD

These braised pig trotters are therefore, in a word, perfect!

Crafting materials
2-3 pig trotters (chopped into whatever size your butcher chops them for you)
Soy sauce (5 parts)
Chinese cooking wine (3 parts)
Vinegar (2 parts - doesn't really matter what kind of vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar.)
5 spice powder (1 part)
Ginger, chopped finely (1 part - I used the tube stuff because I'm lazy)
Garlic, chopped finely (1 part - I used paste because... yes I'm lazy)
1 large onion, chopped into bits however small you get to before you get lazy
Brown sugar (a bit)
Ground white pepper (a bit)
Sesame oil (a bit)
Garlic cloves x 5, still in their little skins (Optional)
Enoki mushrooms (Optional, I just love the darn things)

Crafting method

  1. Blanch the trotters, leave them to cool, then scrape off and discard whatever bits look dubious to you (usually hairy bits)
  2. Mix all the ingredients together except the trotters, chopped onions, garlic cloves and enoki mushrooms
  3. Galoosh the liquidy ingredients into your trusty rice cooker
  4. Dump in the garlic cloves, onions, and trotters
  5. Add enough water so that the trotters are just covered
  6. Stir everything until the liquidy ingredients are homogenously... liquidy
  7. Separate the enokis into slimmer bunches and strew them on top of the whole liquidy trottery mass
  8. Close rice cooker and set it either on Soup/Cook for 2.5 hours, OR set it on Steam for 2.5 hours (this will depend on the kind of rice cooker you have)
  9. After 2.5 hours, open the rice cooker and add more water so that the trotters are covered again.
  10. Give everything a stir
  11. Cook on Soup/Cook OR Steam for another 2.5 hours
  12. Splat all that unctuous gooey gelatinous fatty piggy goodness on a plate of white rice and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM. If you can find a decent sambal oelek, even better!

You need to blanch the trotters first (boil them for a short while until they turn white and scummy stuff comes to the top of the boiling water pot) so that they don't smell piggy in a bad way, vs piggy in a good way! Which is what they'll smell like after you get rid of the Bad Piggy by blanching...

The Lords of Vendorbation -

I have just started working in a very large multinational organisation (60k+ employees), having previously worked in a 4 staff micro SME. I am shocked at the amount of money wasted on systems with such poor quality web based interfaces that no-one seems to be able to use them properly. No thought is given to the user interface and usability of a system, as long as it somehow meets the functional requirements. Apparently they don’t include being able to finish a task in the system without phoning the helpdesk.

I now know how spoiled the world of freelancers and SMEs is when it comes the quality of the software used. I consider it a real privilege to have used tools such as Basecamp or WordPress when I look at the festering piles of sh*t that are now forced upon me.

And that is the crux of the matter. I have no choice so there is no incentive for the provider to produce something usable. It’s something I remember Nielsen writing about probably more than a decade about: most menuing systems in gadgets are so poor because once you’ve bought the gadget you’re locked in. Whereas on the web if you can’t use something, you go somewhere else.

We now have the exception that proves that rule: Websites that are forced up on you due to a choice you can’t easily reverse are universally crap. Examples include your child’s school’s website and your employer’s intranet.

- Robin, commenter, Lords of Vendorbation

Win without pitching manifesto - Blair Enns

The forces of the creative professions are aligned against the artist. These forces pressure him to give his work away for free as a means of proving his worthiness of the assignment. Clients demand it. Designers, art directors, writers and other creative professionals resign themselves to it. Trade associations are powerless against it. Consultants and outsourced business development firms earn their living by perpetuating it. And conferences put the worst offenders from all sides on stage and have them preach about how to get better at it.

It is a mistake to look to the creative professions to deal with this issue. Free pitching and speculative creative will only be beaten one firm at a time, with little help and much loud opposition from the professions themselves. This battle is but a collection of individual struggles: the single artist or creative firm against the many allied forces of the status quo.

But while collectively the battle may seem lost, a revolution is afoot. Some creative firms are fighting and winning. They are reclaiming the high ground in the client relationship, beating back the pitch and winning new business without first having to part with their thinking for free. They are building stronger practices amid the forces of commoditization.

This treatise contains the twelve proclamations of a Win Without Pitching firm. It describes a trail blazed by owners of creative businesses who have made the difficult business decisions and transformed their firms, and the way they go about getting new business. They have resisted the profession-wide pressure to toe the free-pitching line. They have gone from order-taker suppliers to expert advisors and have forged a more satisfying and lucrative way of getting and doing business.

Their path, described in these pages, may not be your path. Not everyone has the heart or stomach for revolution. It is up to you to read and decide for yourself if you will follow.

If you're a freelance creative type, or manage a design studio / ad agency / etc, you should read this.

Naturally, depending on your life, your reputation, your country, the industry in your area, etc, much of it may not be practical. But for those in the position to work in the way this manifesto outlines, or even for those NOT in the position, but who are crazy enough to risk getting burned, it's a very, VERY good read.

Available for free online (or pay for the ebook/pdf/hardcover if you like).

When you buy a UX designer, what are you actually buying?

Once, to do web design you had to be a T-shaped person. This is defined as a person who knows a little bit about many things and a lot about one thing. Imagine a programmer who also understands a bit about business models and some interface design. But as our product complexity grows, we need P and M shaped people–people with multiple deep specialties. To design great user experiences, you need to specialize in a combination of brand management, interaction design, human-computer factors and business model design. Or you could be part of a team. The term UX was welcomed because we finally had an umbrella of related practices.

Of course, we don’t all belong to the same version of that umbrella. We all bring different focuses under the umbrella, different experiences, mindsets, and practices. While we can all learn from each other, we can’t always be each other.

But trouble started when our clients didn’t realize it was an umbrella, and thought it was a person. And they tried to hire them.

- User Experience Go Away, by Dave Malouf, emphasis mine.

FWIW, Malouf's definition is pretty close to my own, in terms of what's needed. =)

Weird. The single, largest predictor for nugget's liking any given game is whether or not it allows minion armies. Usually zmobies.

I was a bit disturbed upon realising this while playing my second day of Age of Conan, yesterday.

Every single game I've loved or really REALLY liked bigtime since LegendMUD (with the exception of Forsaken World), has allowed me to have a minion army. And I'm not even talking MMOs only here, but any game.

I blame it on spending my formative gaming years raising homunculi armies in LegendMUD.

The class I've started with in AoC is the necromancer. I'm level ?10?, I have 4 zmobies gwarrrrrrging along behind me, and I am as happy as a clam despite AoC being fugly and having really really bad animation. XD

Apparently I will forgive near anything if I can have minions.

...can it really be that simple? O.O

Flourless triple chocolate cake of lazy doom!

Basic crafting ingredients

  • 3 parts dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao or whatever they call it)
  • 1 part salted butter
  • 1 part fine sugar (whatever colour makes you happy)
  • 4 large eggs (or about 2 parts worth of eggs)
  • A bit of vanilla essence (mebbe 1/2 a teaspoon - it varies depending on your essence strength)
  • Some cocoa powder (however much makes you happy)

Make dat cake!

  1. Mix sugar and cocoa until stuff is a lightish brown. If you want to add extra powdered flavourings (e.g. chai powder, etc) this is the time.
  2. Plop eggs (minus shells) into sugar and cocoa mixture, dollop in vanilla essence and any other essence you like.
  3. Mix it all together until nice and bubbly and uniformish. Use a friendly electric mixer if you have one, or just whisk if you don't.
  4. Melt the butter and chocolate in whatever way makes you happy. I like using either a rice cooker (slow), or a microwave. If you're using a microwave, plop the container holding the choc and butter into a plate with some water in it. It's sort of like a lazy nugget's version of a microwave water bath, and it works. Nuke for 1 min, stir, then nuke for 30s each time, taking out to stir until lumps are gone.
  5. Galoosh the melted choco-butter mixture into the egg-sugar-vanilla mixture, and stir it a lot until it is a smooth, rich, dark brown batter.
  6. If you want to add extra solid tasties (e.g. nuts, berries, whatever), fold them into the mixture now.
  7. Pour the whole lot into a greased (yay more butter) metal baking cake pan thing.
  8. Stuff in oven and bake at 180 celsius / 350 farenheit (conventional) for 45-50 minutes.
  9. It's done when you poke a toothpick into it and it comes out just a tiny bit crumbly dirty, which I think is what the cookbooks MEAN by clean. Honestly, I have no idea. ._.

Let it cool then eat eeeeet!

It's also very good if you make chocolate icing out of a combination of nuked chocolate chips, sugar, butter, and a bit of cream. I have a lazy version of that which you can do in a rice cooker, or a microwave. Also, better pictures later. I blame my guildie who was asking for this!

Salted buttar? Yes. Salted buttar. I use salted butter because I'm lazy, and I only buy salted butter. If you want to use unsalted butter, then add salt yourself, or omit the salt altogether, that works too. If you're adding salt, mix it together with the rest of the powdered stuff.

For a slightly 'lighter' version, use 2 parts chocolate, rather than 3 parts. The reviews on the 2 parts vs 3 parts are divided. I think it depends on how much of a choco monster the eater is. As a non-choco-monster, I like the 2 parts better!

Suggest an MMO to a nugget! Preferably subscription-based, not F2P/P2W.

A nugget is currently poking around for a new MMO, due to certain major economic changes PWE made to Forsaken World.

There's a whole lot of complexity around it, but what it boils down to for me, is that I can no longer live off my in-game investments while spending real money on luxuries. Not just that, but newer toons without in-game investments now have real trouble (for the first time since the game was launched) building up enough capital to acquire investments. One of the reasons FW has lasted so long for me is I loved that every dollar I spent on FW felt like a 'treat yourself' vs a 'pay us for basic amenities'. That's gone now.

And soooooo... I'm in the market for a new MMO. Preferably subscription-based, because I don't want to think about money in-game, for a while. I do not believe that F2P games are in any way inferior to, or of a lower quality than subscription-based ones. However, in order to play an F2P game sanely, without turning into a whale, you need to know how much every single thing you do is worth in RL cash. That kinda kills some of the happy escapism, and adds a bit of a DoT effect to the nugget's limited Willpower bar. And for someone with horrible altitis, F2P games change alts from happy new bundles of exploration to costly happy new bundles of exploration.

So for now, I would really prefer a subscription-based MMO, so I don't have to think about stuff like that for a while.

Unfortunately, when I went looking for a subscription MMO, and not a F2P one, I found, to my horror, that the thing I feared 2 years ago has now come to pass.

Everyone has gone F2P, with the exception of WoW. I won't go back to WoW, because I don't like the person I turn into when I play WoW. In a WoW context, I turn into this extremely mercenary creature, who really only ranks and assesses people by how useful they are to her. WoW is the only MMO I've played where I haven't made a single friend, or met someone who could have (given more time) become a friend. So - WoW is out.

I don't want EVE, cause space doesn't do it for me, and neither does open-world PvP. The latter, though, I'm willing to accept if the premise is attractive enough. ATitD was great when I tried it, but really not for me. Sad fact - I'd rather kill than build things. ;)

Which leaves me, really, with no subscription-based MMOs at all. HALP!

MMOs nugget has tried
There are a few missing from the Pinterest board, as I've been too sluggy to add them.

  • Guild Wars 2
    Box purchase and CS based on F2P principles. Broke my heart, don't bother.
  • Guild Wars
    Box purchase. Ah, ArenaNet, I used to love you so much, believe in you even more.
  • Furcadia
    Free. I wish furries were my thing.
  • Runes of Magic
    F2P. Boring.
  • Glitch
    Dead from not doing F2P right. I would have paid a subs to keep it alive if they had asked. I'm sure many other Glitches would have, as well. They never asked.
  • Jade Dynasty
    Rapacious F2P. Wuxia styled, hilarious storylines, but the sheer grind and willpower cost to NOT spend got to me in the end. Also, I still resent them for that $20 mount I had to buy to access my midlevel content...
  • Heroes of Three Kingdoms
    Dead F2P. Closed by PWE after testing some concepts that made their fully-fledged way into Forsaken World.
  • Rift
    F2P, formerly subs. I really wanted to like this game. Trion loves its community the way ArenaNet used to. But the game is simply lacking on every level, from art, to sound, to combat. Does do dynamic events really, really well though.
  • City of Heroes
    Killed by NCsoft, formerly subs. Wouldn't really have interested me anyway. I don't care if it had one of the most advanced character creation screens for its day, if every option is ugly.
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea
    F2P. Fascinating... but F2P, which defeats the point of this whole post!
  • Forsaken World
    F2P. The reason for this post in the first place.
  • Chronicles of Spellborn
    Dead, formerly F2P, then ?free?. Killed itself just as I was getting to know it.
  • Lineage II
    F2P, formerly subs. Beautiful indoors, beautiful character models, hideous outdoors. The last was a deal breaker for me.
  • Aion
    F2P, formerly subs. Took hours to download and install, only to find that my bombshell vixen of a toon walked like a chicken. Deleted in 5ish minutes.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online
    Pay-for-content-unlocks. Fugly. Really smooth, but so ugly I uninstalled 10 minutes after installing.
  • Atlantica Online
    F2P. Can wield a party, much like GW. Horribly ugly, but interesting. But it's F2P!
  • Allods
    F2P. Tried recently to get back into Allods. Unfortunately, GPotato has implemented a ridiculously stupid authentication system, and after the Nth time of being told my password was incorrect, even though I'd just sent a password reset, AND reset it, AND was able to log into the Gpotato site itself, I gave up. All Gpotato games fall under this group now.
  • A Tale in the Desert
    Subs (I think). Great game, if you like building more than killing. I like killing more than building.
  • World of Warcraft
    Subscription with a growing cash shop. I don't like the person WoW turns me into, and I don't like their systems.
  • Tera Online
    F2P, formerly subs. Best combat I've ever seen. Beautiful art, great sound. So why it's not really 'sticky' for me, I don't know.
  • Neverwinter
    F2P. Feels like a cheap rip-off of Tera. As far as I can see, everything Neverwinter does, Tera does better.
  • Age of Wushu
    Paid 'VIP' status. Extremely promising, love the artwork, love the combat. Unfortunately, it's trying for an EVE-style economy, and from what I could see before I stopped logging in - it isn't working. At all.
  • Lord of the Rings Online
    Pay-for-content-unlocks (I think). Couldn't install on 2 computers now. Can't be bothered to troubleshoot.

Two great (unrelated) articles, one on medical care for the dying, and the other on harrassment and the Interwebs.

Letting Go - What should medicine do when it can't save your life?

The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task. Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And, in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don’t want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knew how to fight for territory when he could and how to surrender when he couldn’t, someone who understood that the damage is greatest if all you do is fight to the bitter end.

More often, these days, medicine seems to supply neither Custers nor Lees. We are increasingly the generals who march the soldiers onward, saying all the while, “You let me know when you want to stop.” All-out treatment, we tell the terminally ill, is a train you can get off at any time—just say when. But for most patients and their families this is asking too much. They remain riven by doubt and fear and desperation; some are deluded by a fantasy of what medical science can achieve. But our responsibility, in medicine, is to deal with human beings as they are. People die only once. They have no experience to draw upon. They need doctors and nurses who are willing to have the hard discussions and say what they have seen, who will help people prepare for what is to come—and to escape a warehoused oblivion that few really want. 

Atul Gawande, New Yorker

On Being a No-Name Blogger Using Her Real Name

Because online harassment is still a women’s issue.

It’s a women’s issue because those goals up there–making somebody feel afraid of speaking, making somebody feel powerless to stop what’s being done to them, making somebody feel like the only recourse is to shut up and hide out forever–are the goals a whole lot of men still hold dear and work towards for all women.

You, dear male reader, are totally not one of those men. I know this, and I appreciate it. I really do. But here’s where all this victimy girl shit concerns you:

  • every time you don’t tell your buddies it’s not okay to talk shit about women, even if it’s kinda funny;
  • every time you roll your eyes and think “PMS!” instead of listening to why a woman’s upset;
  • every time you call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt instead of a halfwit demagogue;
  • every time you say any woman–Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Phyllis Schlafly, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, any of us–”deserves whatever she gets” for being so detestable, instead of acknowledging there are things that no human being deserves and only women get;
  • every time you joke about how you’ll never let your daughter out of the house or anywhere near a man, ’cause ha ha, that’ll solve everything;
  • every time you say, “I don’t understand why thousands of women are insisting this is some kind of woman thing”;
  • every time you tell a woman you love she’s being crazy/hysterical/irrational, when you know deep down you haven’t heard a word she’s said in the past 15 minutes, and all you’re really thinking about is how seeing her yell and/or cry is incredibly unsettling to you, and you just want that shit to stop;
  • every time you dismiss a woman as “playing the victim,” even if you’re right about that particular woman

You are missing an opportunity to help stop the bad guys.

You’re missing an opportunity to stop the real misogynists, the fucking sickos, the ones who really, truly hate women just for being women. The ones whose ranks you do not belong to and never would. The ones who might hurt women you love in the future, or might have already.

‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates womento the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on his side.

Kate Harding,