Category Archives: Gibberish

Getting Personal

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Hello! Check out the name of this hotel!

After returning from a little holiday, I thought it was time for a more personal update about the progress of “OneLoneCoder”. I’ve been outputting a lot of content since I started this blog. Clearly, videos have been top of my agenda. I’m trying to learn the art of video crafting, and it’s great fun, but certainly requires mountains of effort. My plan has not changed though, once I’m confident enough with the format, and the technology, I intend to release a series of considerably more basic tutorials than those so far. I believe the target audience to be younger too. I figure, if I started coding at 9 years old, with no internet, and only technical manuals and time to guide me, surely young people today could benefit from an non-patronizing, yet approachable source of material? I’m disheartened by the fact that there are many new enterprising projects with the honorable aim of educating, but they seem a bit naff, almost maker-y, craft-y, let’s teach code through the medium of climate change and social responsibility way. Then there’s the sock puppets and animations to explain simple arithmetic, coupled with “teaching hardware”, expecting young-lings to get excited by a blinking LED after their responsible guardian has helped them drag n’drop the “blink LED” algorithm onto a cartoon microchip.

I believe that in many cases, perhaps it’s the parents that get in the way of the child exploring and learning for themselves because they feel the need to be able to answer the inevitable questions, and perhaps, completely acceptably, harbor a slight embarrassment about not understanding the technology. Surely then there is a happy medium where educational material can be presented to both audiences at the same time. Anybody can code. In fact, I believe this so much, that I stake my YouTube introduction on it.

I’m unsure about my “character” yet in videos. I’ve set myself some rules:

  1. Never swear or be offensive – Too many people on-line seem to make profanity part of their “act”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fountain of sweary vocabulary off camera, but I don’t need to rely on it to appear cool. I’m quite secure in myself – after all, I build freaking robots dude. That’s “way cool” to quote Earthworm Jim.
  2. Don’t ally myself to any agenda – No politics from me. Actually, I’m quite political, but it’s none of your business what I think about an issue, unless it’s related to my central message – “you can code”. I can’t stand videos where the host’s views are foisted upon me – I don’t care about your myopic view of the world, and frankly, it’s offensive that you, a nobody, thinks I should. Go away.
  3. No fluff – “Hey Guys! What iz up? Anywayz, like, I’ve been kinda working so hard making these kinda videos, you know, you absolutely gotta give me like, a thumbs up, in fact, if this video sorta gets like, 5000 likes I’ll consider making one about like, something you guys say in the comments, anywayz, try to spot the kinda hidden message in like, the upcoming content, if you do, hashtag video dudez all over like, social media guys. Anywayz, here’s my top ten styles of ketchup packet. Like, subscribe and I’ll, you know, obviously, keep making more of this stuff for you guyz, Anywayz, see ya next time” – No.
  4. Videos should be complete – This is a tough one. I can do some videos that are only 5 minutes, covering a single topic, but lets not kid ourselves, technology and engineering is complex, it does take some time to absorb it. If you can’t stand the thought of watching a video that’s more than a couple of minutes, perhaps coding isn’t for you. On the other hand, I agree that 45 minutes is a bit too long. I’m guilty of long videos, but I picture myself as being the Bob Ross of coding, If you’re into it just a little bit, watching someone gently explain code whilst creating something can be quite soothing.
  5. A sense of humour – Code can be a bit boring, but among coders there is humour to be found. All of my coding videos so far have little Easter Eggs to find that will stand out to the advanced coders out there. I’ve also tried being a little explicit with humour too.

I got my first dislike 🙁 . At the time of writing, my videos have had 760 views, I’ve gained 15 subscribers, and 50 likes. On average, each video gets about 30 views. But my most popular video so far is this with 180 views:

The title may be a tad click-bait-y, and sadly it would seem that works. Anyway, to the one viewer that was so put off by this video that you physically felt the need to register your disgust. Thanks, at least you were engaged with the content. Engagement has been a little underwhelming generally, I was expecting a few more comments. I won’t deny there are other video makers out there doing similar things to me that seem to get loads of engagement but each one has been going for years, and started when there was not a lot of competition. Time will tell in this regard though, but perhaps I should make more of an effort to get noticed. I’ve no intention of monetizing my videos either, which I expect works against me, why should YouTube bother to promote a video it receives no revenue from?

BUT, I’m not giving up so easily, as mentioned at the start, I’m new to this, I’m going to get it wrong, somethings will work, others won’t. I do know that I need to regularly update with new videos and material. I’ve just started trialing a new little format “Two Minute Review”. This will mostly be computer games, but I feel sometimes it can be reviews of other stuff. I’ll stick to my “character” though, no hate, just honest feelings being expressed.

Here’s a sneaky peak. Anywayz, like, see you next time guys!

Jx9

Information Is Beautiful

Hello!

Take a look at this. You don’t need to understand it, for my point to come across, but for now, please just look at it.

In preparation for an upcoming video I’m putting together, the code you see above is all that is required for a fully functional game of Tetris. I wrote it in a way that was readable by an average human (the intention of the video is to introduce some fundamentals), then reduced it until I had to go to bed. There is still scope to reduce it further, but something about it struck me. This handful of characters and digits contains enough information to play a fully functioning game of Tetris. This to me is no different from looking at a strand of DNA knowing that within is encoded all the necessary information to construct people. The characters above contain the definitions for the pieces (Tetronimos), the layout of the board, the rules of the game, animations for lines that disappear, rules for detecting collisions, increasing levels of difficulty, score keeping, user input and control and ultimately displaying it on a computer screen.

Some may argue “Sure, but it needs all the libraries and stuff and an OS to work, which means there’s millions more characters”. I can’t refute this but I propose it does not matter. This humble block of bytes above, is all the information needed within an existing ecosystem to present a fully functioning game of Tetris. DNA on its own doesn’t form life, it still needs an ecosystem to operate within. Likewise, that existing programming ecosystem will not on its own present a game of Tetris, it needs just this extra “blip” of information to make that happen.

At the risk of sounding like a pretentious git, there is a beauty to this. It’s not often that your eyes can perceive the whole of something in programming, but here we are, staring at an imposing rectangle of just about readable C++ code. There is nothing more, nothing hidden; and a programmer can see it is legitimate code, but this arrangement of symbols and characters is all that is required to form a complex, fun and interactive puzzle game, known to quite literally billions of people around the world.

I’ll be uploading the source soon enough, when the video gets finished, but for now, just staring at the image makes me really appreciate information in a new way.

Jx9

PlayStation VR 3 Months On

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I’ve had my PSVR for a few months now, and I think it’s great.

BUT… you can’t help but notice that it was not really supported over the Christmas period.

I share my thoughts on why this might be, and what the future might hold for my PSVR.

Jx9

Should coding be taught on embedded hardware?

I think the growing trend for embedded systems hardware to be sold as a training tool for novice programmers might do more harm than good. In this video I ponder it, along with questioning the suitability of such platforms when used as child teaching aids.

I think children are more capable than we think, and we shouldn’t patronise them with “toy” programming environments.

Jx9

Games Are Boring

That’s right! That game you love? It’s actually really dull.

Forget for a minute that you are interacting with an artwork capable of transporting your imagination, engaging you emotionally, and stimulating your pleasure senses, what you are really doing is playing a central role in a closed-loop feedback controller.

If you like strategy games, you’re querying a database and watching equations approach equilibrium.

If you like simulations, you’re tweaking the parameters of a physics model. Hardcore simulations tweak the control parameters of further feedback loops.

If you like platformers, you’re generating a list of shapes that overlap.

If you like first person shooters, you’re partitioning space to find the most optimal way to bisect a hull.

If you like point and clicks, you’re playing a website.

If you like role playing games, you’re doing all of the above but multiplying the result by a random number.

If you like online role playing games, you’re performing many parallel logic XORs with cascading logic ANDs (whilst slowing down Netflix).

If you like sports games, you’re paying “entertainment tax” to conglomerates and tax evaders.

 

Jx9