• New website with GatsbyJS and S3

    2/7/2019

    It's that time again to redo my website from scratch, this time with GatsbyJS and Contentful. By previously having decoupled the content management with Contentful, I only need to redo the frontend. Having previously used GatsbyJS for the Cinelandmarks project, I decided it's a more modern alternative to Jekyll for creating a static (but dynamic seeming) website.

    Also, the new site is hosted...

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  • Transition from VFX to Programming

    2/7/2019

    Why would someone to give up a reasonably successful career in the glamorous movie industry for the more banal world of code, bugs and databases? Well, I've been meaning to write about my transition from VFX into Programming for quite a while now, so here goes my attempt at answering that question. Like any big decision, there were multiple reasons that influenced it. But let's start at the beginn...

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  • Zombietown

    22/7/2018

    I've been trying to make another game! Rather than think of my own, I've attempted to create a clone of a game I liked: Rebuild2. It's a strategy game where the player has to manage buildings and survivors in a zombie-infested cityscape.

    I've partially been using this project to get to grips with Redux and I'm still struggling a bit, as expanding funct...

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  • Job links (old and new)

    20/2/2018

    As I mentioned in my last post, I recently started at Red Badger, and I now have an official employee profile page! Go check it out at https://red-badger.com/people/david-basalla/!

    Also, I came across a couple of my blog posts from my time at GOV.UK. Unfortunately they are not the most exciting...

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  • Red Badger

    11/2/2018

    In another update, I've left Government Digital Service (GDS) after two years and now work at Red Badger, a digital consultancy right by Old Street. I joined middle of December 2017 and I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far. I'm learning loads about modern JavaScript, React and ReactNative, which is a welcome change after 3 years of Rails development. Getting into the JavaSc...

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  • Trying out Contentful

    5/2/2018

    We're using Contentful to manage web content for a project at work so I thought I would give it a go to combine it with Jekyll to maintain this website. It was an interesting learning experience, diving deeper into CircleCI and deployment logistics.

    Before this change, I would add any new content as code in my Jekyll repository, build the site and then manually copy...

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  • Deploying with CircleCI

    10/2/2018

    In an attempt to be a bit more professional about this website, it's now being deployed via CircleCI 🎉 I've been looking at it as part of my new job at Red Badger, more on that hopefully soon...

    I mostly just followed the Jekyll and CircleCI docs. The actual deployment to the server is done with the `net/ftp...

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  • Match Three Update

    6/2/2018

    So I dusted off my MatchThree game the other day, after roughly 8 months of not looking at it. I had left it in a pretty wonky state. The last thing I did was to turn it into a puzzle/RPG hybrid a fantasy twist, where matching gems would harm the other player.

    However I quickly realised that what I had programmed just wasn’t fun. In part that was because my game concept wasn’t very well fleshe...

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  • Ticket Checker

    6/2/2018

    I've made another thing (it's been quite a while judging by the last post)! Over the weekend, I set up a script that periodically checks and emails me if tickets have become available on a certain website for the date that I'm interested in. It's basically some ruby code that uses Watir to analyse a webpage, Mailgun to send me an email and is hosted on Heroku with the scheduler plugin.

    For anyon...

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  • Match Three Game

    6/2/2018

    So I’ve had a go at making a Match Three style game, similar to Bejeweled and Candy Crush. Check out the work in progress here! I figured it would be a good chance to play around with JavaScript and the Canvas element a bit more. In the end I used RequireJS for managing dependencies, FabrisJS for drawing on the canvas and Underscore for its more convenient array methods. ...

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  • Isometric Game Test

    7/2/2018

    Over the weekend I managed to take some WebGL libraries (ThreeJS, BabylonJS) for a spin, and made a little demo reminiscent of isometric RPG-style games. Sadly you can only walk around with the WASD keys at the moment, and I still have to implement proper movement and any sort of collision detection. But playing around with the libraries was fun!...

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  • CodeBar

    7/2/2018

    I went to my first CodeBar session! codebar.io is a great non-for-profit organisation that aims to teach "underrepresented groups to learn programming in a safe and collaborative environment". The events are run as weekly workshops where tutors meet with students to work on a set of tutorials or their own projects. This event was organised by Tatiana Soukiassian who works as...

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  • Property Prices UK

    7/2/2018

    As part of a job interview, I created a Rails app to display property prices in the UK over the last 10 years (2006-2015), based on data from the Land Registry. Written with Rails, BootStrap, ChartJS, hosted on Heroku. I'm planning to add a paginated listing of the individual sales as well as a breakdown by type of property. This...

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  • Site Rework with Jekyll

    7/2/2018

    Happy New Year!

    I've rewritten the website with Jekyll. I stumbled across this nifty website generator recently updating physio-an-der-bucht.de and have come to appreciate the general file structuring and reuse of components. It allows for easy blog updates also.

    So I've taken the time to update my site, mainly to reduce some old clu...

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  • Parliament Visit

    7/2/2018

    Today, the e-petitions team from Unboxed was given a tour through Parliament, ending with a vist at the Lords' bar! We finished work on e-petitions for Government Digital Services in June/July and it's been widely used since the the relaunch. So on Friday we toured the House of Commons and House of Lords and heard some of the interesting backstory to the UK's parliament. There's definitely some si...

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  • Brainstorm App

    7/2/2018

    In an attempt to do more web-based programming, I've made a litte application for making mind maps. The initial idea came from brainstorming about finding jobs as a programmer and being too lazy to use pen and paper! I've recently turned it into a Rails app with Facebook login support.

    Still WIP, but you can try it here. It's hosted on a free Heroku acco...

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  • So much to explore

    7/2/2018

    So it is now February 2015 and I am looking for a job as a programmer. Progress on that front is slower than I would like, but it also an educational experience. Researching various companies makes me question what I am really interested in. There are so many avenues to explore that it’s hard to focus on any particular one, fearing that others are being neglected.

    I am still working on the Physio...

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  • Python Learnings!

    7/2/2018

    Been looking into something interesting (regarding Python anyway) today. I currently want to programatically analyse and edit python source code files. At first I thought I could just do some old-fashioned string parsing, but this would quickly become a big pain in the neck. Instead I found the AST module, which allows for parsing of .py files and representing code as an Abstract Syntax Tree. This...

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  • Mars!

    7/2/2018

    http://aeon.co/magazine/technology/the-elon-musk-interview-on-mars/

    Love this paragraph:

    “Musk has been pushing this line – Mars colonisation as extinction insurance – for more than a decade now, but not without pushback…. ‘I think we have a duty to maintain the light of consciousness, to make sure it continues into the future.’ People have been likening light to consciousness since the days of ...

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  • Incubation instead of Procrastination (or the Eureka Effect)

    7/2/2018

    I have found a word for it! That phenomenon for solving a programming problem when not even thinking about it. I had this happen lots of times during my recent degree. I would be struggling with a problem for hours while sitting in front of a computer. Only after stepping away and doing something completely unrelated (like taking the tube, or taking a shower) the answer would hit me. Apparently th...

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  • Long overdue update

    7/2/2018

    So I have finished my MSc in Computing Science at Imperial! It was a pretty hard slog right to the end, but in the end totally worth it. It does feel like it opened the door to some pretty cool and interesting topics, and has given me the tools to actually explore them in some fashion. Having finished the MSc, I finally have time to investigate some topics of my own choosing, rather than frantical...

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  • Wellington

    7/2/2018

    I'm back in Wellington! This time for only a couple of months, to work on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. It's great being back and seeing old friends again. The weather has been stunning so far. I got on the flight here the day after I handed in my final MSc Project report, so it was a hectic week. However it's unlikely that I will get to relax here, as Weta is known for their crazy cr...

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  • Mind readers!

    7/2/2018

    Wired: This app lets you control Google Glass with your thoughts!!

    “Right now, they have identified 18 different kinds of brain waves that could be used as commands. But for the purposes of the initial demo, just two commands have been focussed on — ones that essentially signify “yes” and “no”, for the purposes of the app. Anyone wearing it needs to concentrate in order to command Glass to take a...

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  • Update

    7/2/2018

    Yikes, time flies when you’re NOT having fun, especially when occupied with exams and various course works! The whole 2-month exam period was not something I’d like to repeat again in a hurry, to put it politely. Unfortunately, I may just have to do that if I fail any of the exams, and especially the Algorithms exams looks like a hot contender for this. I actually spent at least 2 weeks revising f...

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  • An impressive speaker

    7/2/2018

    So this Wednesday, we had Vint Cerf do a talk at Imperial. Honestly I had never heard of him, but was already impressed by his iconic-sounding name. Turns out, Vint Cerf is considered as one of the two fathers of the internet! In his talk he actually said the words “In 1973 we were doing our first designs of the Internet”, which is nuts if you consider the role the internet plays today. He’s won n...

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  • A new challenge!

    7/2/2018

    So Enigma is done, handed in, and I’m feeling fairly confident about it. Hopefully I’ll get good grade to offset my other crap assignments (more on that later). But we’ve already been given our next C++ assignment, which is to write a Chess program! That’s actually quite fun so far, and I always thought that I would enjoy programming games more. Now Chess is quite a way away from a juicy Street Fi...

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  • Down the rabbit hole

    7/2/2018

    At the same time as I was struggling with my Enigma machine, various other assessed course works started to kick in. The most worrying of these is an assignment where we have to add functionality to the operating system MINIX. Now let me explain – this is some seriously scary shit! You’re basically given this super bare bones operating system as a pile of C (!) code which you have to make sense of...

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  • Enigma with a vengeance

    7/2/2018

    I wrote the last post in a flight of euphoria over having finished the enigma machine. This feeling was squashed completely in the next day or so when our lecturer released some test answers and my encryption turned out to be completely wrong (it did encrypt, but not to the same pattern as the enigma machine). This is part of an apparently common phenomenon that is experienced by many a programmer...

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  • Enigma

    7/2/2018

    For our last C++ programming assignment, we’ve had to program an Enigma machine! This was a German invention, used by the Nazis during WW2 to send scrambled/encrypted messages to each other via radio. The enigma machine was special in that it ensured a polyalphabetic substitution cipher (basically the bee’s knees of encryption at the time), and was considered unbreakable until some clever English ...

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  • Placebo Buttons

    7/2/2018

    Yesterday, while working on a group course project, one of the guys in my group mentioned placebo buttons. What a cool concept!! It’s basically buttons in the public/private space whose sole purpose are to give people a false sense of control. So for example, those walks buttons at pedestrian crossings may actually have no effect whatsoever except making pedestrians feel as if they are important t...

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  • Solving problems by stepping away

    7/2/2018

    One thing I have noticed a couple of times now – when faced with a tricky logic or programming related problem, the solution will come to me only once I’ve stepped away from the computer. This happened yesterday when I was trying to figure out a way to implement matrix multiplication with two-dimensional arrays in C++. I was sitting in front of my computer for 2-3 hours and I could not make sense ...

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  • A wealth/torture of opportunities

    7/2/2018

    So far I’ve really been enjoying my experience at Imperial. One thing that stands out is the wealth of career-related events that Imperial hosts. This week for our course alone, we’ve had Mozilla, Facebook and Google (twice) visit us to give talks about tech-related topics (browser graphics, company culture, solving the halting problem) and promote their companies for internships and job offerings...

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  • First Impressions

    7/2/2018

    So my first 2 weeks at Imperial College are behind me! I’ve enrolled in the MSc Computing Science this year to learn a bit more about programming and other computer-related things. This comes after spending 8 years in the Visual Effects industry! Will be curious to see where this leads. So far it's a lot to take in. People here seem scarily clever! ...

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