Geopolitical anxiety level: very high. Let’s distract ourselves for a few minutes with some inconsequential trivia.
According to Twitter, it’s been 15 years since I joined Twitter. On reflection I’m not sure I’ve used my time wisely.
It’s also been 7 months since I told my energy supplier about the gas meter mix-up and they haven’t sorted it out yet. I understand that fixing this problem must involve cooperating with my neighbour’s supplier but I still struggle to imagine a legitimate reason for it to take so long.
Their indifference hasn’t prevented them from continuing to send me increasingly fantastical gas bills in the meantime. Untethered from the humdrum reality of meter readings, these bills are based on a story they tell themselves about how much gas they imagine I’ve used, which is a fun and creative idea, like Tolkien’s history of Middle-earth, but for methane.
A month from now the price of natural gas will almost double.
They turned out pretty well! Next time I’d roll the pastry thinner and make the croissants larger, but I was happy with the lamination and the Flora “plant butter” tasted good. I’m tempted to try pains au chocolat now that I know the pastry basically works.
I streamed some Horizon Forbidden West on Monday, stopping only when the game crashed.
It’s a good job it did crash because I’d become stuck in the same way as I did in Horizon Zero Dawn: I got swept up in a big battle that I was dramatically underpowered for, but there wasn’t any way to back out of it and do something different, so I was trapped in a loop of repeatedly dying which isn’t the sort of thing I enjoy.
In the relative calm of the next day I discovered I could break the cycle by running far enough away, quitting the game, loading the game again and fast travelling the heck out of there.
Later, Tekin and Maple politely shamed me into learning a bit about how to play the game I was actually playing instead of stubbornly pretending it was Uncharted and then getting annoyed that it wasn’t. Tekin, presumably fuelled by some combination of altruism and frustration, shared his screen and walked me through how to, you know, use weapons and pick upgrades and find out what level you are and stuff (my actual level, 10, didn’t bode well for the level 15 quest I got stuck on). That helped a lot.
I don’t think I’ll ever become one of those people who actively enjoys combat, but I am getting better at it now that I understand the unspoken rules of the genre, e.g. ignore the automatic progression of the main quest until your level is sufficient to continue. I’m also increasingly resigned to the idea that I have to learn how to tolerate or enjoy action RPGs because all games are like this now, and this particular game is an appealing enough example to learn on.
So I’ve gone back to the earliest point possible and am grinding through all the side quests before I carry on. Fortunately they’re enjoyable and are helping me to learn more of the mechanics, so this is obviously what I should’ve done in the first place. There’s even some straightforward fun to be had in the environmental puzzle sections (“Relic Ruins”) and some entertaining storytelling & performances elsewhere.
I wish the game had made more of an effort to tutorialise the big picture of how to play it correctly instead of wasting time teaching me what button to press to drop off a ledge, but I’m grateful my friends got me there in the end. It’s kind of shocking how much content I would’ve missed if I’d just powered through it using luck alone. Maybe I’ll go back and replay Zero Dawn after this because I definitely fluked that one.
I’d hoped I would be able to ignore the loss of a USB-C port, but this week it became too annoying to ignore any longer. This is mainly because I have three USB-C peripherals (monitor, webcam, YubiKey) which need to remain connected at all times, so going from four to three ports reduced the number of unused ports from one to zero, which makes a qualitative difference whenever I want to plug anything else in.
So I gritted my teeth and bought a Thunderbolt hub. It works well despite being way too expensive for what it is; its USB A ports are more reliable than the ones built into the monitor, and it’s convenient to only have a single cable plugged into the laptop when I need to move it or temporarily attach another device.
For that price I would’ve hoped for a box with, like, ten extra USB-C ports rather than three, but I think those literally don’t exist.
I’ve made a plan to go to California in April — the week after I meet my team in London — so that’s an eventful fortnight to either look forward to or feel a bit nervous about.
That’s all. See you next week, maybe.