To Boldly Nerd…

Video games, pen&paper RPGs and other nerdery

Nerd + Everything Roundup

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So what’s up in nerdland? I attended the Javascript Days conference in Munich at the beginning of March. My working life has been PHP and MySQL with some Javascript, mostly jQuery, but I’m working on a project in Angular so wanted to dip my toes in a little deeper. It was easily one of the better conferences I’ve been to; talks were a workshop-style format morning and afternoon and I loved having enough time to really dig into the subject matter. That might have been different if the talks hadn’t been interesting, but they were. I came away with a lot to think about.

The highlight was easily the morning talk on Javascript security problems and the afternoon workshop where we actively tried to hack a dummy site. When we visited on the site, an interface allowed session hijacking, redirecting, etc etc. The presenter asked, “Who doesn’t know what a rickroll is?” Some poor soul raised his hand. “Turn your volume up!” and bam, now he knew what rickrolling is.

Most people at the conference were there with colleagues, and as usual, most conference attendees were male. Since, say, age 20, the percentage of situations in which say “fuck it” and do what I want have increased considerably, because there is nothing as awesome as being confident. Sometimes this attitude deserts me and I eat my delicious conference desserts by myself. But this time I just joined random people and started conversations, and had some pretty cool chats. I loved that people from all different backgrounds were at the conference – Java, .NET, PHP – it was a very different atmosphere from a PHP conference and there was a lot to talk about.

I blocked off some time at work the week after to go through all the stuff I learned, but it mostly got shoved aside for other things; still on my list. My enthusiasm for functional tests using Selenium Webdriver was rekindled though, and the last few days I’ve been writing tests and getting things working. I decided to go with the facebook php-webdriver for its support of touch events, but stupidly, the only help forum of any kind is a facebook group which is not very active and not easily searchable. So it’s been a bit touch and go at times when I have something that doesn’t work straightaway. Today I set up phantomJS for headless testing which was also more difficult than expected until we found the ‘ignore-ssl-errors’ switch.

Aside from work nerding, Kadomi came down to Munich for the weekend after the conference and we walked the soles off our feet through various museums. The German Museum is an absolutely enormous science and history museum, we saw maybe a tenth of it and didn’t even get to the floor about computing. I loved the exhibits about making glass and porcelain (safety glass! so smart! floating molten glass on molten tin! who the hell thought of that? genius!), loved all the airplanes and boats and random bits of space equipment, was sad that the planetarium is closed for repairs, and thought the guy sleeping in the empty robotics lab on a table between two monitors was pretty cheeky.

I have to say that for as long as I held out against getting a smartphone, now I love mine. The public transportation apps alone would have been worth it. I’m using Aviate (beta) for a launcher screen; it switches out apps lists and widgets depending on location and time of day, which is so smart and pretty flawless. It comes with Home / Morning / Night, Work, Going Somewhere, and Listening; there are further options to categorize apps for the second home screen, and an alphabetized list of apps at the end. Finding things is super-easy and the design is easy on the eyes. It is beta – you can’t add states, and I can’t figure out how to add widgets that are specific to a state to another state (for example Weather, in Home, I would like to have while Going Somewhere). But you can always switch states manually.

In totally non-nerd news, spring is here! We had some really unseasonably warm weather two weeks ago and now everything is blooming all at once. Usually the horses don’t go out on pasture until May, but we’re allowed to start getting them used to fresh grass again now and looking at an April start date. It was dark when I put him out to graze tonight, so I put my nighttime blinky-lights around his front legs so, I figured, I would at least be able to tell where we was when he wouldn’t let me catch him afterwards (usual response: Take me away? From the grass? HAHAHA sucker) but he hasn’t been out enough this year to remember that he has to run away; caught him first try. The stars were out and bright, Orion, Casseopeia, the Dipper and the Pleiades overhead.

This morning I was at the physiotherapist for my shoulder issues; today was massage day. The massage room is half of a bigger room divided by a hanging curtain, and halfway through someone was ushered in to the other room. From the voice, it was an older German man. He had to wait until I was finished. We heard him rustling his magazine, and then he started talking on the phone.

“Hello. Yes, yes I got it. It’ll take a while to work on it. Yes, I’ll look at it on the computer later.”

So far, so good.

“Yes, I got all those jokes. So many jokes. I’ll have to read through them all. Yes, I got those. Yes, I saw those too. Yes, I did get the proctology jokes–”

and that’s when both the physiotherapist and I lost it, giggling silently behind our curtain.

For those of you who read all the way to the end, here’s a sneak preview – we still have to get them On The Wall:

Lego or reality?

Lego or reality?

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