Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why updates have been scarce

The recent sales on Steam have left me quite a bit less broke than I might have been had I bought a couple of dozen games at their usual prices, but it has left me in complete poverty as far as free time and productivity are concerned.

As you can tell from my Steam screenshot, my preference is generally for strategy, real-time tactics, and role-playing games.  The main culprits thus far have been my favourite MMO Eve Online, and an absolute little gem of an indie platformer called Braid that has managed to make itself one of my favourite games of all time.

I was hoping to make this post a little bit longer and more interesting, but these games aren't going to play themselves, you know...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Polyphasic sleep: A followup

Well, I've been trying dilligently for the past week or so, but - would you believe it - the one week I decide to give this a shot, I actually develop a social life.  A number of  social engagements that crept up on me over the past week have turned out to be difficult, if not impossible, to reschedule.

One of the drawbacks of a polyphasic sleep schedule is the unacceptability of missing just a single nap.  Miss one, and you're thrown off for a day; miss two, and you're completely screwed. After about three or four days of sticking with it faithfully, I began to miss naps and the whole thing fell apart.  Even an impromptu fishing expedition with my brother this morning was more than marginally unpleasant due to accumulated sleep debt.

If even during what is supposedly a holiday I am unable to make time for this sort of thing, I seriously doubt I'll be able to keep it going during normal life.  I can't say I consider it a healthy lifestyle, nor can I say it was fun while it lasted, but, goddamn, if it isn't interesting!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reddit Secret Santa

Reddit recently ran an ambitious, community-driven Secret Santa project.  Initially it was a niche interest idea from a handful of lunatics, but the idea quickly picked up steam and received strong support from redditors.  It didn't take very long for redditgifts to become the biggest Secret Santa exchange in history.  The story got picked up by the mainstream media who ran with it as a lovely Yuletide story of an online community acting as a force for good, which is quite remarkable as most online communities specialize in ruining lives.

Let me get to the point:  I participated, and I finally received my gift!  The wait is the consequence of international shipping, but it was more than worth it.  I initially signed up with the intention of brightening a stranger's life - which, I am told, is the correct spirit in which these endeavours are to be undertaken - so the fact that I got anything at all, let alone a terrific gift, is just a bonus.

As you can see, my Secret Santa - an obviously intelligent, sophisticated and good looking redditor who goes by the handle ultimatenerd - got me a Pedobear plush from Desu Toys to keep my cat Molly company, and a copy of Max Brooks' The Zombie Survival Guide; a book I've been meaning to read for quite a while now.

I'm thrilled with my gift from the Internet, and I'm already looking forward to 2010's Reddit Secret Santa exchange!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Polyphasic sleep

One of the benefits of working from home - and, from past experience, being unemployed - is that I get to make my own schedule.  A consequence of this is that my sleeping patterns tend to get severely warped.  As much effort as I put into having a healthy sleeping pattern, my aversion to having eight to ten wasted hours per day and my general enjoyment of the various activities with which I occupy myself, I usually end up with my circadian rhythms having me go to sleep at five or six in the morning.

With my sleeping patterns having yet again reached a nadir in productivity, and with the benefit of still technically being on holiday, I've decided finally to give polyphasic sleep a try.  A lot more has been written about it than I could, so I'll try not to rehash too much other than to explain that the system of polyphasic sleep I'll be attempting to adopt involves sleeping six times per day, for twenty to thirty minutes at a time.

Allegedly it takes about a week to adjust to the system, and fortunately my plate for the next week or two is rather manageable - even in the throes of sleep deprivation.  My naps will occur at 02:00, 06:00, 10:00, 14:00, 18:00, and 22:00.  This is quite convenient, as the naps will occur at the same hours on either side of noon.  In total, I'll get roughly three hours of sleep per "day" (my concept of what constitutes a day or a night will need re-evaluation.).  Reportedly this is as much as the human body requires under this system, and most people who have successfully switched - I admit, there aren't many - report feeling more alert, healthy and productive than they ever have before.  With this in mind, it certainly can't hurt to try! (don't quote me on that if I die)  A potential pitfall lies in missing a nap; while delaying a nap for up to an hour in a pinch is acceptable, missing just one scheduled nap can derail the entire system and require a great deal of time and effort for recovery.  Self-discipline and a strict schedule are the order of the day.

If SEALS can make it through Hell Week, then I can make it through a week of sleep deprivation until my body adjusts.

Another  potential problem with polyphasic sleep is that a person eats more - after all, you're awake for longer.  The fact that my diet already consists of six small and carefully planned meals per day meshes well with my new endeavour, so that's the least of my concerns.

Ultimately, there's very little science to back this up and long-term studies on its effects and efficacy are non-existent, so I'm not optimistic of success.  Let's just call it a temporary hobby until my holiday officially ends.

So my question is: What would you do with 30 to 40 extra hours per week?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Irish blasphemy law becomes operational

The new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational in Ireland today.  This type of law is silly, outdated and dangerous.  Are you religious and don't believe me?  Then recall that Jewish high priests had Jesus executed for the "crime" of blasphemy.  Jesus understood the importance of questioning, criticizing and subverting religious belief... and they nailed him to a cross for it.

That's precisely why this type of law is patently absurd.  Blasphemy is an arbitrary accusation that can - and often is - reinterpreted by individuals and groups to fit their particular need.  Even in Christianity, what is considered gospel to one branch is considered blasphemy to the other.

When you have ill defined laws, you have judicial manipulation and eventually end up with tyranny.