Planet of Hats: The Next Generation

I’ve been a bit coy with my updates this week, referring to “drawing” or random chunks of time without saying what I was working on. Well, today the secret is out – I’ve restarted work on my Star Trek parody comic, Planet of Hats!

I ended this comic three years ago, having exhausted all of the Original Star Trek series material, including the animated series and the movies. The next step would have been to start on The Next Generation series, which was a huge chunk of work, and put me off beginning.

But circumstances conspired to prompt me to draw a new strip – you can read about it in the writer comments.

So, I was working on that a bit more today. And I also had some post office errands to run – mailing a redditgifts gift, and some old Magic: the Gathering cards that I’m selling. And doing a lot of housecleaning today. There was a lot of junk all over the place after the market stall on Sunday and me having to work furiously on drawing for a while.

New content today:

Rain and more rain

It rained a lot today. I sent much of the day drawing comics at home, heading out at lunch to get some fish & chips. Although it’s only a 10 minute walk and I carried an umbrella, I was pretty wet by the time I got home.

The comic I was drawing is now complete, and I’ll be publishing it tomorrow – but for now it’s a surprise.

This afternoon I took Scully to the dog park, despite the rain. This time I wore a raincoat with hood, rather than use an umbrella. Scully had her doggy raincoat on. She doesn’t like the rain. She ran after the tennis ball a few times, but then decided she was wet enough and simply turned and walked back to the car. I had to coax her over to the park with some treats, but she really wasn’t into it.

Only a couple of the regulars at the dog park showed up in the rain, and they took a short walk before heading off, since the rain was moderately heavy. It was then that I realised that even though I was fairly dry under my raincoat, the coat itself was dripping wet… and I’d have to climb into the car to drive home. I decided to take it off and toss it into the boot before dashing into the car myself without the wet coat on. By which time Scully (in the passenger seat) had shaken the water off her and coated the interior of the car in spray…

New content today:

Some comic sketching

This morning I had to make an expedition to the hardware store to buy a replacement fluorescent tube for the kitchen light. It dies a couple of days ago, and last night I had to cook dinner in the dark. Well, not complete darkness, but darker than I would have liked.

On the way back, I popped into my local art supply shop to get some new felt tip markers and drawing paper, because I planned to spend today doing some drawing. This is for a secret project which should be completed tomorrow, and which I’ll announce in the next few days. And drawing was pretty much what I did for the rest of the day.

I also walked past this interesting historical plaque embedded in the footpath near the Royal North Shore Hospital.

North Sydney Brick and Tile Company

I’ve waked past this dozens of times, but only stopped to read it today. The area where this is located is still an industrial zone, but no more brickworks.

New content today:

The downslide

I spent much of today doing coding tasks as well, after yesterday’s epic effort. I did a lot of tidying up of minor things, in particular setting up the permissions on the IWC forums so people can’t do bad things and can do the things they should be able to do. phpBB’s permissions administration interface is not at all intuitive, and at one point it was configured so that nobody could read anything. I think I managed to sort it out now, though. I also added an anti-spam extension, and a dark theme for users who prefer that. (If you want to use the dark theme, you can access it thus: Click your username in the top-right corner of the forums, choose “User Control Panel”, go to the “Board Preferences” tab, and select your board style as “Prosilver (Dark edition)”, and Submit.)

I also installed a bunch of SSL certificates on all my sites, and then went through the tedious work of tracking down all the security errors and fixing them. Now all my websites should show shiny padlock icons in the URL bar, instead of the scary “Not secure” warning they used to show. (If you see any pages that don’t show the padlock, please let me know.)

Finally, in a stab in the dark, I decided to apply for a position in the 2020 Alaska Robotics Comics Camp. For years I’ve envied everyone who has gone to this annual event, and wished I could go. This time, I don’t have a job to keep me home… so I thought why not apply and see what happens?! It’s a lot of money, getting to Alaska and then paying for the camp, but if I get selected you can bet I’m going to do everything I can to afford it!

New content today:

Architects of the West Kingdom

Today was spent getting used to my new tooth, and also in doing some comics work. I assembled a new Darths & Droids strip for Sunday’s update, and then wrote a bunch of new Dinosaur Whiteboard comics for the first time in six months. It’s funny how having more spare time means I’ve had less time to spend making those. Anyway, I’m hoping to keep those up 5 days a week for a while again.

I did some admin work involving contacting my mother’s ISP to sort out some account stuff for her. Then went out for lunch and to buy some groceries to lead into the weekend.

Tonight was fortnightly games night with friends. Five of us gathered at Steven’s place, and we kicked off with a Darths & Droids writing session, titling the strip I’d made this morning and then writing new strips. After we did that we got stuck into games.

I played a couple of quick games of Rubik’s Race, which was really only there because Steven has primary school aged children. It’s nowhere near as difficult as a Rubik puzzle, and is essentially a simple sliding tile puzzle that is played as a race between two players.

After pizza we got stuck into a serious game: Architects of the West Kingdom. This is a worker placement game, in which you have 20 meeples and each turn you place one on the board in a location of your choice, and then depending on the location you perform an action per meeple that you have at that location. Some locations simply give you resources, while at others you spend the resources you have to buy artisans, or build buildings. There are also some actions that interact with other players’ meeples, such as capturing them, or ransoming them off to the prison tower for money. You gain virtue for doing virtuous things, such as building the cathedral, giving goods to the king, or paying off debts, while losing virtue for things like raiding the tax store, or visiting the black market to secure a better trade deal.

Here’s the game partway through. I’m playing red, with my supply on the far side of the board in this view:

Architects of the West Kingdom

It’s really engaging because each turn is only a few seconds long and your turn comes around again quickly, so it always feels like you’re doing something, rather than waiting for your turn. You get victory points for buildings, gold, marble, coins, virtue, having built parts of the cathedral, and also any bonus points on cards you may have bought during the game. So there’s a lot of variety in ways to accumulate points, and thus a lot of different strategies that you can use that feel like viable ways to winning. All these are good features, and it’s a fun game. As it turns out, I won with 34 points! The next player had 30.

If you’re looking for a good new game that supports up to five players, I recommend it.

New content today:

School science prep

Today I did further preparation for my school science visit on Monday. I’ve been trying to contact a nearby high school to borrow some of their lab equipment, but they kept not returning my calls. So this morning I decided to try Sydney University, where I studied for several years, and know some of the staff in the physics department. I called up and got onto the first year lab coordinator (who I hadn’t met before) and asked her if I could borrow some stuff. She put me onto the lab technician, but he wasn’t in yet, so I sent an email.

Then I was planning to go do some grocery shopping, but I didn’t want to be out driving the car when he phoned back, so instead i stayed home in that sort of anticipatory state that makes it hard to concentrate on anything. He emailed back at 11:00, saying to meet him in the physics labs at 11:45.

Now, I was at home, and the university is on the other side of the harbour… I mailed back saying I might be a few minutes late, and jumped in the car. Fortunately traffic wasn’t bad and I managed to find a parking spot right next to the university gate closest to the physics building, so I was actually on time. I borrowed a retort stand and clamps, and a brass mass carrier with a stack of brass weights. Pretty simple stuff, but it would have been tricky to improvise adequately for Monday.

And I spent some time trying (in vain mostly) to help solve puzzles for the MUMS Puzzle Hunt. I don’t know where the rest of the day went!

Oh! I queued up a bunch of new comic submissions for Lightning Made of Owls. We had a bit of a slump in submissions for a while, but now there are several comics in the queue. If you want to make a simple gag comic and have it published, send it in!