LICEcap by Cockos Inc, a free, GIF screencast app that's as awesome as its name is awful.

Sample GIF from Mars - a web business intelligence tool for community pharmacies - that we recently launched at Minfos.

I recorded this as a PoC to show my colleagues, but it's had the fortunate effect of making me realise that the way we've implemented that checkbox is pretty bad right now. It shouldn't dismiss the dropdown menu the moment the checkbox is checked, but only upon the user clicking 'Apply Settings'. Otherwise (as you can see), it's quite horridly disorienting.

Get this wonderful, shiny LICEcap tool.

The Secret World (TSW) is (almost) everything a nugget wanted GW2 to be.

TSW's combat is GW1 style, only evolved, and with enough differences to not be a blatant ripoff - more of a homage. Same way GW1 was a homage to Magic: The Gathering.

You can equip 7 active skills, which you can pick from any skills you've already learned, and you can use them as long as you meet the weapon requirements, if any. 1 of those 7 active skills can be an elite. There are another 7 passive skills, which can also contain one elite, so they don't crowd your skillbar. Similar, to, but at the same time, very different from, allocating skill points in GW1 to make a build.

In terms of combat mobility, you can move while casting (at least, I think you can), double tap to dodge, see AoE rings, blah blah. Circle-strafe like mad when outmatched, stand still and hit buttons when your opponents are puny. At least, in melee. Not sure how ranged works yet.

Mobs don't seem to be as smart as GW1 mobs, but I'm a newbie still (a whole 3 days!), so maybe they get smarter later on. So far, though, they're still better than many other MMO mobs. They DO try to surround you (and hit your back). But they currently don't run from aoe automatically, don't rez each other, etc.

The skills themselves have a lot of interplay between them, but the kind of interplay seems less sophisticated than what GW1 had. There's no costly skills that make a lot of sense - e.g., Flesh of My Flesh, Infuse Health, not that many skills that promote team play above selfishness, e.g. splinter weapon, and protection is not as subtle and beautiful, e.g. Reversal of Fortune, Aegis, Aura of Faith. And there are no minion masters. *sob*

If you like Lovecraftian alternate-universe type stuff, TSW is great. It feels like a rich, solid, plausible, well-built world. The world feels like it has history. Of course, it's easier in their kind of modern alternate-universe-history setting than in a purely made-up world, as it's as simple as going, 'Oh ohtay, that's New York, and Kingsmouth is in Maine.' ;)

Writing & Voiceovers
The writing is just a notch under Witcher and Witcher 2.

The voice acting is superb, AND, like Witcher and Witcher 2, the animations are well done enough that cut-scenes feel like movies, like actual... acting, instead of a poor relation.

Pricing Model
It's on a buy-the-box ($30 or $60, you pick), then subscription-optional model. As far as I can tell, the cash shop is not rapacious or evil. There are a few (very few, well hidden) lottery boxes, so it doesn't seem like that's their main revenue push, and there's very little to no outright selling of power. Lots of selling of fripperies. And subs members get a 10% discount.

Fashion is great fun. Since your gear doesn't show as clothes, your clothes don't matter. Meaning you can wear anything you like! ;) And there's heaps of it in the Pangea shop in London. And of course, more in the cash shop. I love fashion cs fripperies. XD

TSW is the place where crazed build-tinkerers from GW1 should go. For peeps like that, GW2 is an utter travesty. TSW is... the game that GW2 should have been.

LegendMUD folks - TSW is like GW1 met Legend, and they had an MMO baby. ~_o

Dance Dance Revolution obviously causes crazed shooting rampages! >.>

Ahem. Right. Yes, I am being totally facetious and snarky.

From a very good article on Gamasutra: Video games and gun violence: A year after Sandy Hook.

It's extremely in-depth, and well worth reading. And as to the origination of the snarkiness, here it be:

In November 2013, the Sandy Hook report was finally released, detailing what the authorities had discovered about Lanza and his motives for the shooting. It was a 44 page report, describing the event and what is believed to have been the cause of Lanza's rampage -- but you'll have to scroll a fair amount to find any mention of video games.

That's because, as discovered, Lanza didn't really have any out-of-the-ordinary desire for violent video games at all. Sure, he played them -- the likes of Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Grand Theft Auto were found in his basement -- but if anything, he actually had an obsession with a certain non-violent video game: Dance Dance Revolution.

"The GPS found in the home and reportedly belonging to the shooter indicated that he regularly went to the area of a theater that had a commercial version of the DDR game in the lobby," it continues. "In 2011 and up until a month before December 14, 2012, the shooter went to the theater and played the game. He went most every Friday through Sunday and played the game for four to ten hours."

"One of the things that really struck me was it mentioned that he wrote about fantasies of violence for his teachers," adds Olson. "There was just one teacher saying she was really upset about it, it was so graphic she didn't want to share them with other people. That is something you saw with the Virginia Tech shooter as well -- violent fantasies being handed into teachers."

"That's the thing: The typical teenager, especially male, is playing a violent video game on a regular basis, but I don't think the typical teenager is writing about graphic violent fantasties and handing them to people."

Utterly unorthodox but undeniably authentic-tasting chilli crab

I'm a really lazy cook, so if I can take shortcuts, or leave an appliance to do things for me, I will.

I'm also not at all snobby about using spicepacks, provided that they're good enough that they don't taste like spice-packs. This 'proper' kind of spicepack is really easy to find in Asia, but it seems the rest of the world hasn't really caught up yet...

Now that a nugget has transferred to an Oz server, these proper spice-pack crafting mats are harder to find, and I've yet to find one that has a proper chilli crab taste. So I've cobbled together my own version of (lazy) chilli crab that, although it uses at least 50% totally untraditional ingredients, tastes really authentic, and is barely any work at all.

Right! Onwards with the weirdness!

Crafting mats

  • 6 Crabs! Preferably meaty ones like mud crabs or sand crabs (I used sand crabs). I bought mine pre-cooked, but there's no reason you can't cook your own. Here's a great guide on how to cook and rip crabs apart most satisfyingly. RAWRRR.
  • Ajvar - 1 mountainously heaped tablespoon per 3 crabs
  • Chinese cooking wine - 1 part
  • Soy sauce - 2 parts
  • Mirin - 2 parts
  • Balsamic vinegar - 1 part
  • Crispy prawn chilli paste - 1 mountainously heaped tablespoon per 6 crabs or to taste. I love this brand, but you can use any brand you like
  • Cornstarch - just a little bit to gloopify the sauce a bit
  • Eggs - 1 egg per 2 crabs

Crafting method

  1. Dump ajvar, cooking wine, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, cornstarch, and prawn paste into a pan big enough to hold at least 3 crab halves.
  2. Stir the stuff about until it's mostly homogenous.
  3. Cook on low heat for about 30 min, stirring every 10ish min.
  4. Beat the 3 eggles together, then put them aside to await their doom.
  5. Dismember the crabs.  If you haven't cooked them yet, cook them before dismembering. It's okay to give little happy growls and roars as you yank the shells apart.
  6. As you yank the tops of the crabs off, you may find scary looking gloopy gloop inside. DON'T THROW IT AWAY! Throw it in the simmering pan of sauce instead, and give it a good stir when you do. This makes the sauce wonderfully crabby. For anything else that isn't scary-looking-but-tasty-gloop, discard it as the guide above says. You can split the crabs in half after yanking off the tops by simply folding them inwards. If they're cooked, they'll break pretty easily.
  7. After 30min (that's how long it took me to process 6 crabs), or when the sauce has reduced by about 40-50%, dump in the beaten eggs and stir it all together until it's good and gloopy.
  8. Start adding as many crab bits as will fit into your pan.
  9. Coat the crab bits in the gloop, and mush the gloop into any crevices.
  10. Let each crab bit sit in the pan for at least 30s after coating and mushing before transferring to a plate.
  11. Do the top shells last, because it's really hard to stack stuff on top of them.
  12. When all the crab bits have been coated, mushed, heated and transferred...
  13. ...fallen ravenously upon crabbles and eat for the next 2 hours.

If you have access to salted egg yolks, smash one up and add it in at step 1. :( I really missed having that in the sauce, but I couldn't find any that day. It still tastes really good without it, but any of you who know salted egg yolks will know the difference. ;)

On creating brand identities, writing honorific epics for your supper, and settling.

Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life, Maria Popova

While I understand where she is coming from - we had pretty similar beginnings - if you are a brand consultant and it doesn't bring you joy to shape identities, to work within the constraints of who your clients are, what they want to become, and what they can reasonably be within their current situations...

... then I'm not sure I'd want to pay you top dollar. That's all.

There's nothing dishonourable about writing honorific epics (creating brand identities and everything that goes with it) for your supper. There's no shame in the enjoyment of craftsmanship, in the pursuit of it.

But maybe I'm just saying that because I'm a mediocre nugget who happens to really like writing honorific epics for my supper. And when they have truth and soul in them, even better.

I guess the difference is that while I dreamed of being an illustrator when I was a younger, juicier nugget, and I too, chose the path of stability and sanity that was available when I started out, I don't think I settled.

I think I found something just as good, if different. What I do now - that isn't settling.

Yeah if I'd stayed a print designer, and ONLY a print designer, that would be settling.

But with all the stuff I get to do now, I don't look at illustration and go, 'O woe is meeeee! If only my life had been different I could have had that! How I want that! I (claim) I would give it all for that!'

No. Just no.

The article felt more like a regretful monologue of a 'I wish I was a fine artist' type designer. I've got nothing against fine artists, but I really wish that frustrated fine artists wouldn't work as designers.

Nick Kelly: How lies and white male privilege can get you to high places, fast, even if you probably shouldn't be there.

"Getting every staffing agency within a thirty–mile radius to try to find you a job is no easy task. It took months of work and sleep deprivation to build up a portfolio that people would actually pay attention to. I spent a lot of time redesigning mobile applications from big name brands and then posting them on my website as “concepts” so that I could make people think I had worked for that brand, but really I hadn’t. Basically, I had to manipulate my way to the top. It worked."

I find this terrifying.

Redesigns from outside-in are easy. Here's a very eloquent article on why you should keep your unsolicited redesign to yourself. Particularly good is the bit on why, from the outside-in, even a seasoned professional like Andy Rutledge makes basic mistakes due to personal misconceptions. It's terrifying because due diligence wasn't done to verify that he had actually worked for the brands on his portfolio, and he got away with it. At least, that's what he implies in his piece.

I also wonder whether he'd have had quite the same result if he were a black woman (or a non-white woman!) instead of a white male.

Or to put it another way...

"How I became an Art Director for the largest advertising network in the world… Before I turned 21"

(Because I'm white).

Wait, nugget! What are you on? Well... have a look at these articles (just a few of many), and then go back and read Nick Kelly's piece.

It's terrifying because it's a great illustration of getting a job 'because I'm white' + 'male' without necessarily having the skills to do said job.

It's terrifying because a place I once worked at, and loved with all my heart, was bought by Wunderman a few years ago.

Beyond that, I don't really have much else to say.