Zandvlei, Demogarchy and Bitcoin

in draft.

I used to be on the Zandvlei Protected Areas Advisory Committee (ZPAAC) for a few years. We were a group of people, both volunteers, residents in the area, and City employees tasked with managing the estuary, or ‘vlei’ in Afrikaans, hence the name. It was heavily impacted by poor design and construction choices in the 60s, in the form of the Marina da Gama estate, primarily, but also inappropriate urban density upstream, both formal and informal (backyard dwellers upstream with insufficient service delivery, and not enough toilets). So it needed constant management – rewilding was simply not an option.

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Is LaTeX worth learning?

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about learning LaTeX (or any of its brethren like Overleaf or Lyx) for ages now. I like the markup approach, but it is not user friendly. The latex jokes are tired. And ye gods I hate that font, first thing I learnt to change. For the purpose of this post I lump the ‘prettier’ helpers like Lyx, Overleaf, TeXStudio, KILE with LaTeX. From a websearch, the most promising potential alternatives are Scribus and SILE. And there is the option to fall back on LibreOffice Writer …. So, is LaTeX worth it?

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High temperature solar … sand bricks.

This started with a fascination with Markus Keyser’s solar sinter. After unsuccessfully trying to get a Fresnel lens cheaply, I gave up on this idea. It also just didn’t seem that easy to do; too much fiddling for a hobbyist. When I sniffed around his website some more, I got the feeling he felt the same way. Compare his more recent 3D glass printing which I think could be done by melting the sand with a solar thermal collector (more on this below), and then interestingly, when I found his thesis defence, his wider logic was particularly impressive.

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Science entertainment in Hopefield

‘Adventure Sport and Science Tourism’ was a point on my very first business card. I think I had something like the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory in mind, coupled with orienteering and adventure racing. Now I am thinking to have a ‘Science Barn’ where one can have Virtual or Augmented Reality events, and, you know, entertaining events that educate in the fields of STEM, with the Social Science angle ala STEMS2 . My problem is that although I can rationally assert that these are all very important, I get bored with these. They are not fun or extreme enough and actually, I don’t need to conform to a curriculum or whatnot. I also don’t want to invest in things that stand there gathering dust. Better to invest in things I’d use, but that can also be opened up to the public. So this post is a reminder of the stuff I’ve come across that I’d like to try out, and maybe it can generate excitement and income on the side.

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Indequus*

* just toying with words, indie equus, indiebio + equus … this post is about horsey games.

I’m doing this serious game thing, but I also have to confess my love of match 3, especially PlayRix‘s games. And merge games (Merge Dragons!) and 2048 games that are pretty, like NLabSoft’s Age of 2048. And clicker games, like Abyssrium Tap Tap Fish. I particularly like the low poly designs. I also love horses, and have played many of the horsey games but they get a bit annoying. I would like a horsey game that’s like an aquarium game, or a kitten game. You don’t expect fishes or kittens to do stuff, you can just watch and enjoy them. So I want to make my own horsey games, starting with a reimagining of PlayRix’s Wildscapes game, with horses.

This post is supposed to track my progress, and throw it out to the interwebs in case people can help. Things I think I need to master to get there:

  • Graphics – background and moveable items
  • Short animations on home screen
  • Match 3 dynamics
  • How to get an app into the Android store (I’m only interested in mobile, on Android.)
  • Payment options? (I’m not bothered about payment, but if the effort to get the payment options in there is low, then why not)
  • Is it possible to hack / reverse engineer a game like Wildscapes and then put one’s own graphics in? Would that be a bad thing?

Art-Science Initiatives in Scandinavia

I’m planning a three month (give or take) residency in Scandinavia – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. It needs to be in winter because I’m still obsessed with the northern lights and other phenomena (check it out: http://spaceweather.com/). And yes, also, because maybe I want to leave SA. Who doesn’t, at this point? And if I go, I need to know I can survive the winter. I’m also seriously considering buying a place in Hopefield, because, animals, space… so not that serious about leaving SA. Maybe a halfies halfies thing, at best.

While there I have to make myself useful, and because I’m on this game thing at the moment, connecting with art-science initiatives like geospatial art is a great way to make networks, get inspired and maybe start a North-South collaboration that could result in something like the Eden Project in SA, or ‘Skills on a Train‘ vocational training or … in short, have fun. This page is researching what is out there – including funding to get me there.

To do: ask Thomas Niederoest and Hadley Arnold. And keep an eye on the DIYBio stuff. urban interventions – natalie jeremijenko?

While open-ended, I’m particularly interested in information design, biotechnology (in the DIYBio sense), geospatial, urban interventions and urban resource flows. Lower priority areas include animatronics, biomimicry, entertainment. I would prefer working with independent organisations rather than academic institutions, and open-source mindsets.

I guess I could just go to a well functioning hacker space with my own projects and then just see what emerges. I just realised though, that I want to be beyond the arctic circle (latitude 66.5), and the stuff seems to happen on the 60th latitude (Oslo 59.95, Helsinki 60.17, Stockholm 59.32, and Copenhagen 55.67, by the way, via Wiki). (ha! I thought, why not do a symmetrical collaboration, but Cape Town is a measly -34 degrees latitude. So not an easy marketing move)

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