all the world's a stage...

I studied Computer Science at the University of Reading. I am a geek. Programming is my passion and I am working towards becoming a brilliant coder.


I like music, movies, photography, reading and if I can ever get around to it, writing. Also a fan of horror, sci-fi and fantasy so there's plenty of re/blogging on those areas.


I write gig/event reviews at From The Pit



Elsewhere on the web:

Flavors.me
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Many tweaks to this and web presence in general in the pipeline... when I get around to it.


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#482060363 / gettyimages.com

Something that I have learned but not until recently been able to put into words succinctly, is that society has established specific routes to get from A to B in life. They are pipelines. Stick to those well trodden paths and things are smooth sailing, for the most part. Find yourself off the beaten track and things can get a lot tougher.

I was in the middle of getting a degree when my ME/CFS got to its worst and interrupted things. Last year it became clear that in the condition that I was in, I wasn’t going to be able to continue university. I made the difficult decision to withdraw before completing my final year.

So I left with a DipHE (Diploma of Higher Education) and hoped that maybe there might be some form of job combined with training that I could pursue and get myself back on track so far as a coding job was concerned.

If I had managed to graduate with a full BSc then I could have gone for one of many graduate roles. Unfortunately, it turns out that my options are limited with just a DipHE. Then I had a look at Apprenticeships which would give me a job plus vocational training. Perfect. Except for the fact that my (“Level 5”) DipHE makes me overqualified and no Apprenticeship scheme would accept me. It took a little persistence to ascertain that last point because they don’t generally offer any feedback on why an application was unsuccessful. It’s a good thing I finally got that feedback because otherwise I might still be futilely pursuing a dead end.

I went and spoke with a careers advisor at a National Careers Service drop-in session. Basically I was told that my CV was good and that were I younger and less qualified, I would be a perfect candidate for an Apprenticeship.

However, even if apprenticeships weren’t a complete dead end, the ones that might not silently filter me out because of my existing qualification appear to be the rare (non-existent?) exception rather than the rule.

It sounds crazy but basically I discovered that I would have been better off being less qualified. I would have had more options that way but as it was, I had committed down a path and it seemed that my only option now was to see it through to the end.

So the careers advisor had two suggestions for me:

  1. Omit the DipHE from my CV and see if that helps with apprenticeship scheme applications.
  2. Finish the degree.

The first idea, I thought questionable. Omission of relevant qualification information feels too much like lying to me - especially where it impacts on whether the government subsidises apprenticeship course funding - so I wasn’t comfortable heeding this piece of advice. Also, it would leave a massive chunk of time unaccounted for - time in which I had a range of experiences and demonstrated important skills through extracurricular activities.

The other idea, I thought had some merit. Except I can’t afford (financially) to keep on doing the whole student and university thing - hence the attraction of paid job + training (i.e. apprenticeships). And anyway I’m not physically well enough to be able to commit to study at a physical university at this point.

So here I am. I’m feeling better now than I was feeling this time last year and I’m dying to get back on track. This week I’m registering for BSc Computing & IT with Open University so I can finish my degree. It begins this autumn. In the meantime I’ll try to get a job to keep me going until I can finally get the job that I’ve always wanted.

By my estimation, I’m now about six years behind schedule. I’ve a lot of time and lost ground to make up and I’m determined to do whatever it takes. The nice fellow who gave me that feedback on exactly why my application was unsuccessful also said this: 

"It’s a tricky situation to be in and I believe you’ll find an opportunity somewhere soon with your resilience."

I think so too. At least I hope it will be the case.

I always feel a need to thank anyone who manages to read to the end of my posts for doing so. So, if you made it this far: THANK YOU. I do tend towards verbosity, I know. I also know there’s enough noise on the web without me adding to it so I do try to only speak/write when I have something of substance to say - and when I do feel that I have something of substance to speak of, I sure can speak substantially. ^_^

So, I’ve been listening to Within Temptation a lot lately. And when “Fire and Ice” came on, I immediately thought of George RR Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”. I wondered if anyone had already picked up on this and made a video* for “A Song of Fire and Ice”. Of course, this being the Internet, if a possibility comes to mind then it’s quite possible that someone has actually done it already.

There’s other examples I’m sure, but this one was the first I came across. I like it :)

From my very vague awareness of the themes in A Song of Ice and Fire, I can imagine there being a lot suitable material for a Fire and Ice vid.

Having been a bit tied down with other things, I’ve yet to investigate any of Martin’s works or even seen any of the TV show. All this time I’ve also managed to avoid any and all spoilers. This has been easier given that my memory is such that it usually takes effort to commit anything to memory.

I’ll have a Game of Thrones binge eventually and catch up.

* Vidding is something I’m really interested in doing. Over time I’ve been collating songs with themes and TV/film that I might use… Vidding features in at least a couple of my To-Do lists- mental and online. I’m in the process of compiling it all into a single list on Day Zero Project. I feel that it’s more optimistic than a BucketList, with certainty that things will actually get done being higher.

So, I think I’ve whittled 39 entries down to a dozen favourites. This is a continuation of my original post.

Thumbs up to:

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Eurovision spawns listening parties, yearly rituals and full blown pilgrimages.

As for myself, I freely admit to not being the biggest Eurovision fan but I do try to stay in the loop with what happens, in passing anyway. For this year’s, I randomly picked a track from the Eurovision 2013 Grand Final playlist to listen to. It was Italy’s Marco Mengoni with his entry L’essenziale.

Well, for an Eurovision entry, it was better than I expected. So thanks to Italy’s entry, this year I’ve paid a lot more attention to Eurovision than I have in years.

I realise the following is a rather subjective question but… is it just me or has the standard of entries actually been particularly good this year? Or has it in fact been like this in the years before?

I was actually originally going to include a list of “Thumbs Up” in this post containing any good things I might have to say about particular ESC entries. I stopped myself when I realised I had more Thumbs Up to give than than I possessed fingers. And possibly toes as well. If you’re interested, it’s in its own post.

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Imagine Dragons - Radioactive (by ImagineDragonsVEVO)

Here by way of the Lindsey Stirling cover.

Hahaha… I just find this catchier and I like the grungy(?) element. Imagine Dragons wins this Cover Comparison.

To my compromised cognitive state at this hour, this video is making me think of some dark cross between Pokémon and Avenue Q…

That sounds like one freaky anime. (O_o)

Oh, and I think Darth Vader called, he wants his NOOOOO! back :p

Problem: Experiencing a period of increased distractibility. Attention drifting to distant, or “exterior” sounds, like people talking downstairs.

Workaround: Institute a louder, closer source of sound that I can control. Got music playing and volume turned up.

Note: It seems rather hit and miss how various conditions are diagnosed because there’s so much overlap in diagnostic criteria of various neurodiverse states. It’s a wonder that anyone actually gets the right support they need. A very similar (or even identical) set of symptoms diagnosed one way warrants medication but diagnosed another way, the advice is to work on self-management.

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Compared to us here in the UK, over in the US they’ve really got a knack for doing certain things bigger and larger scale. Halloween is one good example. Check out these amazing installations synchronised to music:

[Or watch the whole playlist here]

  1. Thriller (Michael Jackson) - KJ92508  
    The way the pumpkins light up to mark the path taken by the footsteps at the start of the song, it’s a nice touch hinting at the choreography to come.

    If you’re a fan of LMFAO then chances are you’ve probably already seen this guy’s work. Kevin Judd of Riverside, California is pretty prolific when it comes to amazing light shows on the front of houses. So impressed were LMFAO with his light show, synchronised to Party Rock Anthem, that they approached him and had him do their lights for last year’s American Music Awards.
     
  2. Supermassive Black Hole (Muse)soilhead13 
    For Rocky Horror fans there’s also one for The Time Warp by this user. It was tough to choose which one to feature.

     
  3. This is Halloween (Marilyn Manson) - KJ92508 
    Wasn’t kidding when I described this guy as prolific- another one from KJ92508 that I really like. His channel features probably the best examples of creative lighting on YouTube. I love this one featuring Marilyn Manson’s cover of “This is Halloween”. 

    Hope to continue to see more videos of his light shows. Apparently there was an issue with the HOA (Home Owners’ Association?) and he had to stop putting up light shows on his house.
     
  4. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen) - OdessaWest 
    By the way, the numbering is actually rather arbitrary: if the numbering actually meant anything there’d be two or three tied first place with the rest tied second place. I really do think that the ones featured here are the best of the bunch. This one is good enough to be ranked joint first place.

     
  5. Monster Mash - jennstarr722
    Nice song, nice colours… 

Come Christmas time I’ll probably look at “Awesome Christmas Light Shows” because it was actually a YouTube video of amazing Christmas lights that led me to explore Halloween lights…

Spark* Logo

So, a while back I promised you (or whoever reads my blog anyway) and myself that in an effort to keep my blog regularly updated, I’d put up articles and things that I write for Spark*, the student newspaper at my university The University of Reading. So this is me making a start on that. We used to have a “In Other News” column but I decided to re-purpose it into an Editorial. I feel it adds a personal touch to the section.

I also happen to be the Web Editor too so I heartily encourage you to go have a look at the website at www.sparknewspaper.co.uk, and if you want to read the latest issue, then that’s just gone up on Issuu - check out the Issuu page on the website or go straight to Issuu.

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When a viral hit or meme reaches a certain critical mass, anyone who wasn’t paying attention… well, you just gotta.

As is often the case when it comes to music viral hits from genres outside my usual mix, the first thing I usually look at is parody. Then any tributes/covers or remixes and then finally I’ll look at the original. I find it a good deconstruction of the meme and it helps me appreciate the original more: I come to understand it’s appeal and have some fun while I’m doing it.

In my top 3: North Korea’s Kim Jong-un tells it like it is in Key of Awesome #63, a pair of town guards from Skyrim show off their Gangnam Style and then a look at what might’ve happened if Psy was Klingon.

  1. Key of Awesome #63: PSY - GANGNAM STYLE (강남스타일) PARODY! KIM JONG STYLE!
    This one was the first one I saw. I love Key of Awesome's parody videos. This is one of those that's “funny because it's true”. The truth itself isn't funny but the showing up of a less than ideal state of affairs is.

  2. Skyrim : Gangnam Style Dance by abexomotron1

    This one I class as a tribute. And it may be my favourite of the ones I’ve seen. The song itself is unchanged but it’s an innovative use of a couple of guards from Skyrim. I should get around to playing that game at some point. Maybe when they release a GOTY edition that bundles DLC/expansions.
     
  3. KLINGON STYLE (Star Trek Parody of PSY - GANGNAM STYLE)

    Finally, what is probably the best Gangnam Style inspired video I’ve seen on YouTube. This is amazing. You’ll just have to watch it yourself. There are lyrics in actual Klingon. Several popular characters from Star Trek make an appearance too.

Afterthought: It occurred to me that Psy/Gangnam Style is sort of this year’s LMFAO/Party Rock Anthem. Is everyone still shufflin’ or are they doing it Gangnam Style?

So, I’ve been incredibly busy with various stuff so I’ve not been on Tumblr in ages. Is it bad that having felt an urge to blog something, after completing the post I then have to queue for the end of next month because it’s a bit premature to talk about it right now?