fitness, game comments edit

Yet another horrible term coined by inaptly fusion of two words! I was going to call dibs on it but a quick Google search showed other people used it before. Someone even registered the .com domain for it! Anyway, obviously the term is an abomination of words “Ingress” and “Exercise”.

What is Ingress

Ingress Logo

Ingress is an augmented reality game developed by Google (Well, actually by a company called Niantic Labs that is owned by Google). To play the game you need to install the free app on an Android device. (I saw iOS support is coming in 2014 here)

For me the beauty of this game is having exercise without even noticing it. Even having a desire to do it. Last Sunday, for example, I walked around at least 30 minutes hacking a bunch of portals. To an outsider I might have looked like I was enjoying a nice walk in the park but actually I was trying to keep to world free from the unreliable Shapers! I didn’t even notice I walked for that long.

The story

An alien race called Shapers use Portals to teleport to earth. There are two teams: The Resistance and The Enlightened. The resistance are opposed to Shapers’ whereas Enlightened believe they should be embraced.

The goal

The ultimate goal is to control as many portals as you can. You can create links between the portals your team controls and the triangular area between the portals forming the link is called “control field” and any player located inside this area is considered to be under your team’s control. They are called “mind units”. That’s essentially how the current control rates on the intel page is calculated. (As a proud Resistance agent it just saddened me to see we are down to 43% of global control)

The gameplay

Portals can be found anywhere. They can be controlled by either of the teams or they can be unclaimed. To claim a portal at least one resonator must be placed. To capture a portal controlled by the opponent team their resonators must be destroyed by firing XMP. You progress to higher levels by collecting AP (Action Point). After you start hacking the portals you will notice some items in your inventory.

Basic strategy

Okay here’s a guide to the absolute beginner: Just walk or run around and hack every portal you see. Don’t attack powerful enemy portals, you will just end up using all your weapons and energy. If you find unclaimed portals (the gray ones) jump on them instantly. You will gain a lot of APs by deploying resonators and linking them to other portals. Before attacking enemy portals check out the deployment and mod status. Once you have enough weapons in your arsenal and move up a few levels try to find fairly weak portals and zap the resonators. You can earn some sweet APs by creating a control field and don’t let enemy portals surround you because links cannot intersect and if they have a link going through your portals you cannot establish a link between them. So in that sense best defense is offense. Just pick your fights carefully.

Glossary

  • Portal: Places where Shapers can teleport to earth. The main goal is finding and hacking them.

  • Hacking: You hack the portals to get Action Points and add items to your inventory. You can hack any portal but you only get AP by hacking other people’s portals. You get more items by hacking your own portals.

  • Resonator: Every portal has 8 resonators. The resonators deplete over time and eventually the portal becomes unclaimed unless they are recharged. This helps your team to keep control of the portal for a longer period of time.

  • Portal Key: When you hack a portal you might get portal key (there is 15% chance you will). They are very important because you need them to create links between portals.

  • Mod: There are various mod items that let you upgrade a portal. Every portal have 4 mod slots. The mods are portal shields (to defends portals against XMP attacks), force amplifier (increases force of the portal), link amplifier (increases the portal link range), multi-hack (increases the number of times a player can hack a portal), heat sink (decreases the duration between hacks) and turret (increases the portal attack rate).

  • XMP Burster: Weapons to fire XMP on enemy portals. You can destroy resonators, links and control fields with them

  • Power Cube: Used to store XM so you can recharge your XM reserves.

Conclusion

It’s an enjoyable game for me but I can see myself getting bored of it pretty soon. But I have a great motivation to keep playing. It makes exercise just go by. I cannot wait for spring when I can start using it while running which would allow me to hack so many more portals that I can by walking.

Resources

book review comments edit

SLAAAAYERRR!

This book had been on my queue for quite a long time. Luckily Slayer never gets old so this book is still relevant! It’s been 30 years since they released their debut album (Show No Mercy). I’ve listened to all of their albums countless times yet whenever I need something fast and heavy the name Slayer comes to mind first. Now that Jeff Hanneman is dead and Dave Lombardo has left the band (yet again), they are close to the end of their careers at least in terms of releasing new material. So I’m glad I got to finish the book before they disbanded!

The Book

The Bloody Reign of Slayer

This book was written in 2008 and it covers all but the last album (World Painted Blood). Honestly I finished the book just because it is about one of my favourite bands, not because it was a page-turner. In the beginning, the sections about the early years of the band are rather interesting but later on it doesn’t offer much.

It’s like a collection of album reviews. I liked the album review parts, analyzing all songs helps understand them better. But I think there is just too much boring stuff. The stuff that might make sense if you read it in an article about a recent article. But pointless and irrelevant after the album is released 15 years ago.

It was also a bit disappointment to see how boring the lives of the band members are! They are just 4 regular guys that come together to make the records and then live their separate lives. Of course, as the author mentions, this is not an official book endorsed by the band. So maybe it’s coming across boring because of the lack of information released by the members.

Anyway, I’d not recommend this book unless you are a diehard Slayer fan.  Even in that case I’d recommend to buy it just because it would look cool on your bookshelf. It’s a nice-looking hardcover book but the contents are just too mundane. There are not much interesting notes I remember from the book but here’s some trivia that I found enjoyable:

  • Tom Araya’s birthday is on June 6 (Sixth day of the sixth month!)
  • In the early years they stole lights from nearby houses to use them in their shows
  • The producers of the debut album are Brian SLAgel and Bill MetoYER (get it?)
  • Lombardo recorded Show No Mercy without cymbals because of the studio’s inadequacy. Later he overdubbed the cymbals.
  • Slayer name was owned by a San Antonio-based band. They even supported LA Slayer one night.
  • Kerry King played for Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth in some shows. Mustaine tried to convince him to join his band permanently (but failed in the end obviously)
  • Dave Lombardo keft the band in 1986 because he wasn’t allowed to bring his wife on tour. A few months later he joined back only to quit again in 1992.
  • They toured with Megadeth, Anthrax, Suicial Tendencies in Tge Big Four of Thrash and had personal issues with Dave Mustaine. Turns out Mustaine had issues with everybody else too in the industry!
  • The idea of Wall of Blood (Sprinkler for fake blood at the beginning of Raining Blood) came up to Hanneman while watching the movie Blade

Resources

show review comments edit

Ed Byrne is one of my favourite comedians. I like his jokes and his especially his style. He doesn’t offend people with his jokes. Being offensive is not necessarily a bad comedy in my opinion. I do like Jim Jefferies, for example, and he is offensive as it gets. But most of them don’t have his ability to present their jokes in a funny and not-so-annoying way. Anyway, back to Ed Byrne..

Row X!

Unfortunately, my seat was way back in the stalls so I can’t say I clearly saw the stage. That was a bummer but maybe it’s not as important in comedy shows as it’s more about listening. There is not much action on the stage anyway.

Ed Byrne Ticket

The Show

The show had a very interesting setup. First, Ed Byrne came to stage at 20:10 to warm up the crowd for his support act! The Ben Norris came and warmed us up for another 20 minutes. Then there was an intermission followed by a 5 minute set by Ben Norris. Finally, the one-hour long main attraction started. I liked Ben Norris and will try to keep an eye on his tours. Especially his jokes about the Post Office were killer, probably because we could relate to them! There is not much to say about Ed Byrne. I saw his DVDs before and this show was very much like them in general. About half of the show was about marriage jokes which were quite funny even though I didn’t relate.

The Venue

It’s right across the Hammersmith tube station so it’s hard to miss. It’s generally a nice place but he seat was not too comfortable. As the seat being an important factor I’m afraid I’ll have to lower its grade in my eyes.

Resources

game, minecraft comments edit

I recently decided to give Minecraft a shot as there are a few people playing it already (and by a few I mean 12,995,53 as of now, according to its official site). The problem is I’m a casual gamer and I don’t want to spend too much time on it. Anyway, we’ll see what I can do with the amount of time I can spare.

Enter Minecraft

As it is a game encouraging creativity (well, I hope it does at least) when you first start it looks like just a blank slate. There is just some wood and grass around you. The problem is I didn’t have any goals! After spending a few minutes wandering around pointlessly I closed it and forgot about it some time. Until tonight!

Youtube to the rescue

Sometimes I forget that little thing called the Internet. I found a great tutorial in Youtube called “How to survive your first night in Minecraft”. First I thought it was referring to the actual night you are playing the game. And I thought by surviving it meant getting the hang of it and keep playing instead of being overwhelmed by it and leaving it for good as I was almost doing. But turns out there are days and nights in the game! And at night time some creatures emerge and they attack and kill you if you are not prepared for it. The tutorial I watched was only 15 minute long but it gave great insight about the game. As you can see it even gathered a lot of resources and built some tools using them already.

Surviving the Minecraft - Inventory view

Didn’t make it through the night :-(

Well, apparently pausing the game doesn’t stop time. When I was watching the tutorial in paused state the night fell and I was surrounded with all sorts of creatures like skeletons and zombies. Out in the open, without any tools I didn’t stand a chance!

Conclusion

Even though I couldn’t survive the night a learned a lot about the game. It looks like a lot of fun. So maybe I should invest some time on it during the weekends. I know if I play at all nights I will be addicted very quickly. So I guess if I just limit it to weekends from the get-go I can stay loyal to my not spending too much time on games rule. Also I know there is an interest in Raspberry Pi community about running Minecraft servers on RPis. It sounds like it would be a nice use case for my idle Pi.

Resources

Productivity comments edit

I’ve been trying to improve my time management techniques perpetually. This post is a small compilation of notes, tips and tools I came up with. This is an on-going process and I will keep updating these. I strongly recommend reading Getting Results the Agile Way and visiting the sites in the resources section. I learned most of the stuff below from that book. And there is plenty of more good advice in there. So here is my list:

01. Be realistic!

I think this is the most important thing I have learned so far. Yes, we all want to do more tasks and write more code, develop the killer apps we were thinking of but the reality is we have a limited time we can spare. This is not about aiming low but just don’t start everything at the same time because you are too excited about them at the time. It’s very likely that you will end up with a bunch of unfinished projects. Over time they will keep haunting you. First you will never feel the sense of accomplishment even though you spent a ton of time and effort. Also they will remain somewhere in your to-do list only making everything worse.

02. Rule of 3 rocks!

I think if there is one thing to take away from the book Getting Results the Agile Way, it is the Rule of 3. It is a very simple and effective idea. Don’t put too many things on your plate. Every month pick 3 major tasks to accomplish. Then divide them into smaller weekly tasks and even smaller daily tasks. If you only aim to complete 3 tasks every day you can steadily move toward accomplishing the greater goals at the end of the month. For me, it’s not always to plan things so clearly. Generally monthly and weekly tasks are left unfulfilled. But it is easy and very achievable to plan the next day every night and pick only 3 things. At least that one works pretty well.

03. Determine your categories (hot spots)

I have to admit I tweaked rule of 3 a little bit! I wanted to have a more balanced plan so I determined main categories in my life like health, work, career, chores etc. I’m picking 1 task per category each day. This way I believe I can make progress in every aspect of life.

04. Keep it simple

Simplify your process as much as possible. When I first started keeping lists of outcomes I created templates so detailed that it took half an hour to fill out completely. Instead of overly complicating things and spending too much time on managing just try to get rid of as much as possible. In the end the ultimate goal is to use time for things that matter. Even a blank note with 3 items written on it can be a very good way to plan the day. Just do the 3 things on the list, don’t think about anything else.

05. Keep your backlog clean and short

Learn how to let things go. This is another crucial thing. Let’s be honest we will never be realistic and we will put a ton of items to our to-do list turning it into a bottomless pit. There were times I found items in my list that didn’t even mean anything anymore. Or so outdated that it had no value anymore. The result is you keep those in your list all that time, they keep taking your time to manage also they weigh on your shoulders as they pile up. And you end up not doing them anyway. Essentially you stall and stall then delete them once they make no sense anymore. The golden rule to keep in mind is that if it’s important it will surface again! So don’t worry about forgetting a very important task. You will be reminded it in one way or another.

06. Pen & paper with colour coding helps

Keeping notes on Evernote is great but sometimes the ease of use makes it also easier to neglect or forget tasks. After all they become invisible once you minimize the window. I recently started using coloured post-its.They are coded in their order of importance. So for example I cannot do green tasks before the purple ones are completed. Also it is annoying to have a bunch of notes sticking around so trying to get rid of them is an extra motivation!

07. Use Pomodoro on small tasks

I love this technique since the day I heard about it. It’s quite simple: Just divide tasks small unbreakable units of time. The default is 25 minute work and 5 minute rest. I use Focus Booster on my desktop computer

Focus Booster

On iPad I use an app which doesn’t have a specific name and I cannot find it in the app store anymore. It looks like this:

iPad Pomodoro App

It works fine and looks stylish so I’m not planning to find another one. There are a ton of similar apps in the app store though.

I cannot use this method for large tasks. Also I cannot work non-stop with 25-5 periods. I get distracted by something else eventually. So I just use this for short 2-4 pomodoro-long tasks. For example spending 2 pomodoros a day for reading is a great way to spare time to read.

Resources

Book Review, Review comments edit

I’m not an early Twitter adopter but I love using it since day one. It is an fast and easy way to skim through the news of the day, get a few random tips and be notified by new articles or blog posts. I still use RSS feeds as they are not ephemeral like Twitter feed therefore more reliable to get the latest news but Twitter is a great companion to that source now.

Hatching Twitter

I heard about this book in a podcast a few days ago and Twitter being my favourite “social network” I immediately dug in. One funny thing is it makes you think about how fast things go in the Internet age. The book reads like a history of a company which, in earth years, was founded 7 years ago. Obviously we know the plot and ending of the book so there is nothing exciting about it maybe. But the storytelling is very good and riveting. My intention was to spare 2 pomodoros a day but most days I found myself extending it to 3 or 4. Long story short, it’s a very well written book about one of most fascinating tech companies of the day.

Resources

Book Review, Review comments edit

The Power of Habit

I titled this post a book review but in reality I only read the 1/3 of the book! Because it was the part pertinent to my needs. Part 1 is about the habits of individuals, part 2 is about the habits of organizations and part 3 about the habits of societies. The reason I started reading this book was acquiring a few tips and tricks on managing habits and it was very helpful to analyse the nature of habits and altering them if needed. The book covers thoroughly the nature of habits. Basically it’s formulated as cue – routine and reward. So I realized if I want to develop a new habit I have to stick to this pattern. Like to have exercise daily the best approach is to do it always at the same time if possible. Right after waking up for example. And after it I have to reward myself. A little snack maybe. Small enough, of course, not to nullify all that exercise. Anyway, the book has lots of examples of success stories and scientific studies and I think it’s quite helpful to help ourselves automate mundane but necessary stuff and getting rid of some unwanted habits. I have no interest in habits of organizations or societies but judging by the first part I’m sure it must be attractive to some. Even just for Part 1 I’d recommend this book.

Resources

Heavy Metal comments edit

After attending to both festivals this year I decided to make a list of what I liked and disliked about both of them.

Bloodstock

Bloodstock Logo

Pros

  • More friendly: Bloodstock being a small festival I find it cosier and people seem to be more friendly.
  • Cheaper: The tickets are almost 2/3 the price. Also the beer in the arena is cheaper. And best of all you have the chance to buy crates of beer inside the festival area (24 for £40 and 12 for £20).
  • Closer to London: Considering the time spent on the road is just wasted it is good that it takes less.

Cons

  • Coach on Thursday: Not a flaw of the festival but since that’s my means on transportation, I have to chalk it up on festivals cons.

Download

Download Logo

Pros

  • More bands: There are more top level bands. Of course the downside of it is that you have to choose because of the time conflicts.
  • Internet connection: A huge plus. Not very fast but still good enough to read Tweets and some newspapers

Cons

  • Too big to walk around: It took me 30 minutes to walk from the camping site to the arena. Although it’s a good exercise, I hated walking all day long on my vacation!
  • Too crowded: Even in the afternoon, there were thousand and thousands of people in front of the main stages. I watched most shows from the giant screen.
  • Logistics: There are so many people that there were queues everywhere. Want to buy a beer? Wait in line. Wanna go to toilet? Wait in line. Wanna buy food? Wait in line! If there is one thing that I hate more than walking all day on my vacation is that waiting in lines all day on my vacation.

Verdict

To me Bloodstock is definitely the better choice and if I’m around this time next year I’ll most certainly be attending to it. I’m glad I had the chance to see Download but probably that was my first and last time.

Heavy Metal comments edit

2nd Bloodstock in a row is over. I liked the line-up mostly because it had 2 big metal names: Lamb of God and Slayer. I missed some of the bands I wanted to see but overall it was great to attend this year too.

Notes from the festival

  • For the first time in a festival I met with my neighbours! Both next door tents had two friendly guys. Even though, while leaving we just ignored each other (as you might expect) it was nice.
  • I loved my tent. It takes seconds to setup. The only issue was it had black ropes which made it hard for people to see and people kept tripping to them causing me lose 4-5 metal pins.
  • There were some issues with the sound on Friday which caused some explosion-like sounds during the shows.
  • The layout of arena and festival area was the same as last year, including the foot stands which made it easy to find what I was looking for.
  • There was a tent from Wacken Foundation! I don’t know what they are doing but they had a stationary bike for people to ride. Some charity work I guess but I couldn’t find it in myself to go and ask!
  • Best food of the festival: Delikate! Next year I’m planning to eat only from them no matter how long the queue they have
  • Best new bands (for me ) of the festival: Ex-Deo and Hell. Especially Hell put up an excellent show. Hope I can make it to their show in London this November
  • Worst band: Voivod! Extremely boring and completely meaningless
  • Band with worst frontman: Amorphis. The last scrap of my love against Amorphis was destroyed after this show.
  • It felt like the number of Galaxy S phones surpassed iPhones
  • Avantasia’s female vocals looked familiar. Then I realized I saw her in Epica DVD long time ago. She is still pretty!
  • Beholder singer announced next year’s headliner (Emperor)  and he also appeared in the after party with the 4 DJs of the apocalypse.
  • To me the only conflicts were Wolfsbane vs. Anthrax and Accept vs. Scar Symmetry
  • The barrier broke during Lamb of God set. One funny remark from the show was Randy saying he calls himself Roger Brilliant in England.
  • Cursing is still not allowed on the set
  • Everybody who saw Evil Scarecrow said they were great. I wish I didn’t miss that one.
  • During Exodus show the singer started a Wall of Death and how he did it was interesting. He looks at one side and said I want this side to kill that side and looks at the other side and says the same thing to them. Sounded more violent than we generally hear on the shows.
  • Scar Symmetry guitarists looked like twins but apparently they are not related.
  • Looks like my new favourite band Ex-deo’s vocals and Kataklysm vocals are the same guy. The guy knows how to make good music.
  • The vamp girls from the after aprty and Fozzy looked like the same but couldn’t verify it yet! (Check out the videos below to compare them yourself)
  • I wonder who the old presenter who was preaching for worshipping Satan was!

Anthrax Beholder Amorphis Avantasia Accept Dark Funeral Kataklysm Fozzy Gama Bomb Hell Ex Deo King Diamond Lamb of God Ex Deo White Chapel Sabaton Scar Symmetry Municipal Waste




Heavy Metal comments edit

Wow, it’s been a year already? It’s time for another Bloodstock mayhem! This year it’s even stronger and faster: Lamb of God and Slayer are two of the headliners. ‘Nuff said!

Bloodstock 2013

I checked my notes from last year while preparing for the next one. I wrote to buy the same tent but I think I have now a better solution:

Tent

which can be bought from here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00BW3XB0K

The best thing about it is it can be setup in seconds. Just open the zipper and it pops up instantly and you’re done. I had a good deal and got it for £20. At the time of this writing it is £35 on Amazon so I guess I was just lucky to seal the deal back then.

Apart from that, I’ll stick to the plan. I’m packing both suntan cream and poncho as this British weather is completely unpredictable.

Hope everything goes well and I can have a good time at BOA 2013 just like I did last year. I’ll post my reviews after the festival.

Game comments edit

I’ve been playing this game for months now and I believe it’s time to move on. I think it is safe to say that I finished the game already. I bought all the buildings that don’t require donuts. I haven’t spent one penny playing this game so this is as far as a freeloader like me can get! No, just kidding. The prices they set are preposterous and I would never spend that much money on some imaginary donuts. Actually Leo Laporte said in one of his shows that he spend over $300 for this game! That’s how much you can spend if you want to buy all premium items.

TSTO

I’m happy with the Springfield I built. As you can see in the images below, I unlocked all the lands, bought all the buildings money can buy including the million dollar buildings. The problem with the game is there is no challenge. You just tap on buildings when they have signs on top of them and tap on characters when there is a exclamation mark on top. If this wasn’t about Simpsons I wouldn’t be playing it at all

TSTO

The beginning of the end: Krustyland!

The worst part is they started to repeat themselves. After the last update they introduced a new place called Krustyland. It is exactly like the first level of the game. A blank field and you clean up the place and build some buildings. Only this time you earn Krustyland tickets instead of money. It’s like the mini version of the same game inside it.

TSTO

So.. I’m calling it off. I don’t mind wasting a little time on games to blow off steam but not with this one anymore. Maybe I can move on to something more challenging like MindCraft.

Fitness, Gadget comments edit

Although that’s a great song from Iron Maiden, the topic of this post is different. The topic is my new running gadget Garmin ForeRunner 10:

Garmin Forerunner

It is a simple and basic device but has all the functionality I need: Measure distance and time. In addition to that it comes with a software that allows you to upload your run info to Garmin Connect and you can keep track of your progress.

Once you install the software all you need to do is connect the device to your computer with the provided USB adapter and click Upload on the UI. It scans the device and uploads the new activities.

Garmin

Then you can go to Analyze –> Activities where you can analyze individual runs or you can go to your Dashboard to view your current status like your records etc.

Garmin

I’m definitely delighted with this gadget. It currently costs £84 on Amazon. Not the cheapest gadget and also there are free alternatives like RunKeeper app but it is still well worth the money. The only problem was it cannot determine the position very easily. I had a warm up walk for about 5 minutes and during this time it couldn’t pinpoint my location. Before I could start running I had to stand still for about a minute but once it finds it I didn’t have any problems during my run. Granted that I used it only one time as it came yesterday but my initial impression is that it is a great tool and very motivating for running. So highly recommended.

Heavy Metal comments edit

Finally I have seen Download Festival. Here’s my experiences:

Wristband

Arrival

The coach ride from London Victoria to festival area took around 3.5 hours. It was a very quite ride. I was lucky to get the front seat of the bus so my view was pretty good during the journey. It was generally cloudy during the trip but started to rain as soon as we arrived! First thing I noticed was it was a huge area. Even the walk from coach stop to festival area took forever (probably because I was carrying a fairly heavy luggage under the rain). First order of business is obviously setting up the tent. It took 15 minutes of walking to find an empty spot. I could only find one in the farthest camping area. So, if you are planning to go to this festival, make sure you arrive a day before the festival. When I was done with setting up my (unnecessarily complicated) tent it was 4pm already and I already missed a few bands I wanted to see like Papa Roach.

Festival

The main problem with this festival is that it is spread over a huge area and getting to the arena from camping site was taking me 30 minutes of on foot. There was supposed to be shuttle busses but I think they were not operational. Another major problem was the logistics. There weren’t enough toilets. I remember waiting 35 minutes in a toilet queue which was simply wasteful. And they weren’t even close to my camping site, I had to walk a few minutes to get to the nearest one.

Bands

Friday

OK, so after a rather disappointing start let’s get to the fun part. Immediately after I marked my territory I ran down to the arena. The first band I could catch was Philip Anselmo’s (ex-Pantera) Down. The band is certainly not among my favourite ones and they once again reminded me why they weren’t! Some songs are fine but overall I felt bored. I just miss old Pantera!

Next band I saw was Korn. I’ve been listenning them since I was 18 or something like that but this was the first time I saw their live performance. They opened up with Blind which is the first Korn song that I’ve ever listened to so it was quite a good start. I think it was a good set list and enjoyed their performance. The next band on the main stage was Bullet For My Valentine. I had no idea how they got a better spot than Korn and they meant nothing to me. But I was too tired to wander around so I just stood there and watched them. Actually I was just trying to kill time until Slipknot took the stage.

Slipknot

Then came the Slipknot! My first live experience with them and it was well worth it. They are one of the best bands around to watch live. I was lucky that a moshpit was formed where I stood so even though I was far away from the stage I could feel that I was in a real heavy metal show! They simply rocked! At one point Corey Taylor said there were 90.000 people in there which blew mind off!

Saturday

After resting during the night I was prepared for another day of heavy metal but the weather got worse. It rained almost all night and morning turning everywhere a big pile of mud. First band of the day for me was called Young Guns. They sounded like a regular rock band. Not bad but nothing special either.

At this point, I had a bag in my hand because I bought an official festival T-Shirt and I wanted to go back to my tent to leave it. When I arrived to my tent the weather was so bad I decided to take a nap in the comfort of my tent so I missed a few bands but I don’t regret it.

When I got back to festival area, it was Motorhead time! Lemmy was magnificent as always. I still don’t understand a band like Queens of the Stone Age had a better spot on the main stage. They were just pointless and boring! Anyway, time for the the headliner of the evening: Iron Maiden! I had seen them before a few times but they have so much material that they played a show that I have never seen before! This time they only played songs from Iron Maiden (1980) to Fear of the Dark (1992). The last time I watched them was at Wacken 2010 and they played only songs mostly from their post-Brave New World era so it was like seeing the old Maiden for the first time for me.

Iron Maiden

Sunday

Started with a very nice sunny weather. After a nice not-so-healthy breakfast I had my plan laid out. I was going to start the day with Hellyeah. I like this band a lot but unfortunately they had very limited time. 25 minutes wasn’t surely enough for them and it was very early in the afternoon but I still enjoyed their strong performance a lot. A good jumpstart for the day!

Headed back to the main stage to see Coal Chamber. I didn’t even know they had reunited. But it was nice to see them for the first time. They played a short set but full of their popular songs. Next band in my list was Five Finger Death Punch. They turned out to be one of my favourite bands in the whole festival. Their frontman Ivan Moody is quite chatty and friendly. I guess one of the most remarkable moments in the festival was when he called all the kids in the audience to the stage and chatted with them. I’ll definitely keep an eye on this band.

Five Finger Death Punch

Next came Amon Amarth. After a short walk to the The Zippo Encore Stage I started waiting for them. Because of some technical difficulties they were a  few minutes late which shortened their already short set. They only played 4 songs one of which is from their upcoming album. It was nice to see them as always so no complaints. I wish they had a better spot. They surely deserve it.

Amon Amarth

Back to the main stage I started watching Stone Sour but didn’t mean much to me so decided to head to bar which seemed to be a better usage of my time!

One of the bands I wanted to see from the get-go was Newsted!  Jason Newsted’s new band is a traditional heavy/trash metal band. They are about to release their debut album and they played a few songs from it which was nice. Their last song was a huge surprise for me: Whiplash! Half of the tent turned into a mosh-pit and the crowd went insane (including yours truly!). It was a good show and this band form me is another gain from this festival. Before the headliner, they placed a stupid band called Thirty Seconds From Mars. I think the name itself is pretty explanatory about the performance of the band: Meaningless! Skipped them immediately to get the last load of the festival before the closing headliner.

The last headliner of Download 2013 was Rammstein. This was my second time with them. I had so high hopes about their show but it was very much like what I’ve seen in Istanbul in 2010. So I definitely was not impressed with it.

Rammstein

Conclusion

My conclusion is that I will not attend to another Download ever again! The main reason is it’s huge and so crowded. I hate waiting in queues and here you have to wait in queues for everything. For toilets, for beer, for food! Everything! There is no place to sit, not much place even to sit on the ground. Granted there are lots of band options but also it means that some of your favourite bands are bound to overlap. Also huge festival area means you have to walk hours from camping site to arena and from one stage to another. Although it was a good exercise still nothing to enjoy in your vacation.

Heavy Metal comments edit

Last year I missed download festival and settled with Bloodstock only.This year for the first time I’ll see Download.

Download Ticket

Only 1 week is left and the wait is quite exciting. I think this year’s line-up is great as well and I’ll get to see many bands I haven’t seen before.

Tickets

Tickets for download festival are definitely not cheap! £195 Considering a Wacken ticket costs €120 and a Bloodstock £132. If it’s worth the price remains to be seen.

Equipment

This year I decided to buy a larger tent and a thicker sleeping bag as I’m going to use them in 2 festivals. I hope they endure both of them. I’ll post my experiences after the festivals as well. Here are the ones I picked:

This year I’ll buy a sunscreen but not sure about the rain boots. Maybe I should to be on the safe side but just don’t want to carry a lot of stuff around. And this year I’m not taking my camera. That bulky thing is only trouble. I will rely on my Galaxy S3 this year. After all, full concerts can be found on the internet along with a ton of photos. So it’s a not a big deal anyway.

Line-up

The three headliners are Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Rammstein. I have seen Maiden and Rammstein before Slipknot will be my first Slipknot show. Looking forward to it. There are many hard rock / nu metal bands in the line-up. Korn, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, 3 Doors Down are some of them.

One band I noticed is Jason Nested’s band Newsted. They are about to release their debut album and it’d be nice to see Jason Newsted on the stage for the first time in my life. There are many bands to discover and some old friends(!) like Amon Amarth and Volbeat who I will definitely see.

I’ll post my impressions after the festival.

\m/

Game comments edit

I’m not much of a gamer but recently discovered this game and likes it quite a lot. Not surprising to me of course given that I like everything about The Simpsons. Actually the game is very simple and lack of challenge so if it wasn’t about The Simpsons there wouldn’t be any compelling reason for me to keep playing.

The story is Springfield explodes because of a failure in the nuclear power plant (not surprisingly caused by Homer). The game starts with Homer and Lisa trying to rebuild new Springfield. You unlock characters as you complete tasks. You build houses and collect taxes to buy more items to decorate the town. Here’s what my Springfield looks like:

Simpsons Tapped Out

Simpsons Tapped Out

I like the fact that you can just assign the tasks to the characters and after 8 or 12 hours you tapped them to collect the money and experience points (required to pass levels) they earned. So you don’t have to play it constantly.

There are lots of premium items available but I found the pricing too expensive so I’m just playing it for free. For example you can buy 300 donuts for £14 and for that amount of donuts you can only buy a few premium characters (Otto and Professor Frink for instance). I think for that money you should be able to buy everything in that game. Still I’m happy with the free Springfield I built.

Resources

Productivity comments edit

Focusing on tasks and getting them done is crucial. This simple fact is so easy to comprehend it’s a no brainer. But the reality is it’s much harder to accomplish than it sounds like. To organize my tasks I’ve been seeking methods for a long time. My favourite approach is J.D. Meier’s system which he describes in his book Getting Results the Agile Way (http://gettingresults.com). It’s freely available on this site. You can also purchase a hard-copy here.

The key of this system is choosing 3 most important tasks every day. This is very simple and easy to apply to real life. Another important aspect is 3 weekly goals. These are of course more complex tasks than the daily ones. Also an important point is reviewing the progress on Fridays. He calls this pattern Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes and Friday Reflection. This approach is very effective and realistic. The key to succeed with this system is being realistic. Know your limitations and don’t stuff your lists with everything you want to get done. It’s impossible to complete everything at once. If you pick 3 and actually get them done you feel better about yourself as the progress would be visible.

I also recommend an excellent episode of Hanselminutes which can be found here. That episode introduced me to Pomodoro technique which is a simple and effective way to boost performance and focus. The idea is dividing your tasks into small work units called Pomodoros which are 25 minutes (This is the default value. You can change it to your preference). During this 25 minutes you sever all your ties with the outside world (no email, no twitter, no nothing!) and focus on one task only. As focus-impaired people like me would know this is not very easy to do. I tried setting it an hour hoping that I’d get a big task done without any disruptions but ended up with getting lost along the way. So I believe the default value is quite realistic. After you complete the Pomodoro, you have a 5 minute break. I try to consider tasks in terms of Pomodoros. It helps me planning my daily outcomes too.

Heavy Metal comments edit

This was my second festival experience after Wacken ‘10. I was quite satisfied and hopefully I’ll be back next year. Here are my notes about the festival. Hopefully I can remember to check back this post next year to apply todo list.

Arrival

After a 3 hour drive, we arrived at the festival area via coach. After about 15 minutes of waiting I got my wristband and got in. First order of business was finding a spot to pitch my tent. This was a daunting task because I’ve never done it before. After struggling with the instructions for 10 minutes I started setting it up. It was easier than I was expecting and looks like all the tents work the same way, so I guess next time will be a breeze. After the tent was setup, the boring hours began! It was 2 P.M. and there was absolutely nothing to do around as the festival area was going to open at 5. I turned to my book and read a few hours (only reading session I had throughout my stay). The rest of the time passed with eating junk food and drinking beer while watching some “warm-up” bands.

Festival

Friday morning. After a very uncomfortable sleep, started a nice shiny day with a ton of nice gigs ahead. After getting an airbed from the festival area, I started patrolling the festival area. There are a number of choices for food but they were triple the normal price. I don’t understand why they try to rip off people at festivals. You already have thousands of people in a confined space who has nothing to do all day. Even with regular prices they can make a fortune but they are greedy as always. Saturday and Sunday were exact copies of Friday actually. Only the bands changed but my activities between the gigs were pretty much the same.

Bands

Here are my notes on the bands I’ve seen:

Friday – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Malefice : The opening band. I hadn’t heard about them before but they sounded strong and is definitely worth having a look at their albums.

Moonsorrow: I’m not too big on black metal but I’ve been enjoying their music for a decade now. I haven’t seen them live before so I was wondering how it’s going to be. They didn’t communicate with the audience (as none of the black metal bands). Overall it was a nice watch.

Moonsorrow

Iced Earth: I don’t know anything about their work after Something Wicked This Way Comes. But I’m happy to see them for the first time. Apparently they have a new lead singer. One funny moment was him dropping the microphone in the middle of a song. That was a unique incident thinking about all the concerts I’ve seen so far. He was quite chatty and I think he’s a good frontman. May worth checking out their new stuff.

Iced Earth

Sepultura: Another legend and another first live show for me. I can’t believe how I managed to miss them over all these years but finally caught them. They have enough material for a much longer playlist but they were only allowed for 30 minutes. They killed with Roots as the closing song!

Sepultura

Watain: Never had seen them before and never will again! Classic black metal with similar songs. One interesting scene was the singer bringing a cup full of some liquid looked like blood and spilling it over the crowd in the front row.

Watain

Behemoth: I love these guys! They deserved being an headliner with a great show. Flames and burning crosses were nice visual elements of the show.

Behemoth

Saturday – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Benediction: I wonder why they got the earliest spot of the day. I think they are a great band. Even at 11 in the morning, they managed to create mosh pits in the crowd. It was my first time seeing them live, so it felt good to be able to mark another band as seen.

Benediction

I am I: With a lead singer resembling Captain Jack Sparrow, it seemed to be a good band but power metal was never my thing!

I am I

Cthonic: A band from Taiwan. Definitely not a country on metal map IMO. Didn’t like the band except for the beautiful bass player. It was funny when lead singer tried to make the crowd shout “Cheers” in Taiwanese. Cthonic

Crowbar: I used to have an album of this band (in cassette format!) that was one of the most boring albums I’ve ever listened to. The show was very boring too. Good thing I watched it from the beer tent!

Mayhem: I cannot understand how this band is still around. It was horrible! Worst metal band ever. They don’t deserve that spot in the middle of the day in the main stage. They should open the New Blood stage! Boring pointless screams with no melody or lyrics.

Mayhem

Sanctuary: Apparently they are an old band. Singer mentioned they were touring in the UK 20 years ago with Megadeth. I didn’t like their music much, wasn’t surprise why I never heard of them but rather how they survived all these years with this music. I hated them after the singer asked for the crowd to chant their name and said “Thank you for being so obedient” afterwards. I hate arrogant people!

Sanctuary

Hatebreed: One of my top bands ever. I’ve seen them before and knew about the brutal pits but couldn’t resist again. Classical playlist. It was fun to watch when Jamie invited a 7 year old kid and his dad to the stage. (I think the organization tried to ban swearing on the stage after this. Jamie was swearing as usual with the boy on the stage)

Hatebreed

Testament: Classic testament. I’ve seen them a couple of times before. Chuck Billy was awesome again with his stupid grin on his face :-). During the show they put a banner saying “Randy Free” which meant nothing to me at the moment. Later I learned about his incident here.

Testament

Machine Head: Another first show for me. I’m glad I finally saw them. I think they are the new Metallica (during their career peak – Master of Puppets and And Justice For All era). Beautiful show. I hope I can catch them some time soon.

Machine Head

Sunday – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Corrosion of Conformity: Pure rock ‘n roll. They have no crew so the lead singer/bass player had to deal with the technical issues during the show.

Evile: A very nice thrash metal band. Definitely under my watch now. I hope I can catch them around.

Nile: Pure death metal. I’m not a big fan of them. It wasn’t too bad for passing time but nothing special about it.

The Black Dahlia Murder: Not one of my favourite bands but the frontman had a nice dialog with the audience. One interesting detail was one guy trying to crowd-surf completely naked!

Paradies Lost: I used to like them in the old days, not so much anymore but still I enjoy their music. I didn’t understand the Nick Holmes’ attitude though. Making fun of festival name, trying to undermine common concert acts like asking the crows a question and make them make some noise. A dying band!

Dimmu Borgir: Another first show. And a great one. It wasn’t dark when they took the stage but still they managed to get the crowd in the mood. Good dialog with the audience which I didn’t expect. Alice Cooper: Amazing rock show. I’ve seen him in Wacken but this time I was much closer to the stage and enjoyed it a lot more. Best show I’ve ever seen. Even though I’m not a fan of his music, I enjoyed the classics.

Friday - Sunday – Other stages

SaDoKa

During the breaks at the main stage, I sneaked into the other stages. Couldn’t see many interesting events except Sa-Da-Ko. I really enjoyed their music and got hem under my radar now. I’ll follow their albums.

After the live shows, there was a party in Sophie Lancaster stage with The 5 DJs of the Apocalypse. They played almost all the classic metal hits. The dancer girls on the stage on Sunday night were very hot!

Bloodstock 2013

I don’t know if I can make it there, but if I do here is my todo list based on my current experiences:

  • Try to get a closer camping spot to the showers.
  • Gear to buy:
    • Same tent
    • A better/thicker sleeping bag
    • Airbed (from the festival area the first day)
    • Suntan cream
  • Check the weather first, bring rubber boots if it may rain (This year I was lucky)
  • Get more info about the bands before the festival
  • Don’t bring a camera. Use phone or just Google for the photos and videos. There are plenty of them all around.

Review comments edit

I recently finished reading Mark Russinovich’s technothriller or cyberthriller novel Zero day.

Zero Day

Frankly speaking I wouldn’t expect such an intriguing book from such a high-talented technical person. The book does not require any technical skills to follow. The main idea behind the book is very compelling itself. The world we live in is tied up and bound to computers that any attack to cripple our digital lives also would have a huge impact on every aspect of our lives.

I personally enjoyed the fast pace of the book. Even though it’s not a technical book it’s closely related and a real mind-opener. It sure convinced me to invest more of my time on security since it would be catastrophic both on personal and professional levels (Image you’re a Sony developer that is responsible for one of those hacks!). The only thing that i don’t like about the book is perfect characters. Our heroes are both athletic, gorgeous and genius! They have it all. It’s not envy (or maybe a little) but I’d prefer Sue and Vlad as my heroes! They sound more real and personable to me.

I heard that Mark Russinovich is working on the sequel of the novel. Well, my guess is this time it will contain botnets and Chinese hackers since to me it sounds like a huge threat. Of course, we’ll wait and see…