Elon Musk, Games, and The Last of Us

I somehow stumbled upon this Y Combinator interview of Elon Musk – actually a clipping, on YouTube – I’d seen the full interview but this video reveals his deep interest in gaming. After stating his recommendation ‘Overwatch’ & applauding the gaming studio Blizzard for their titles he quickly turns to the interviewee (Sam Altman) and asks what his recommendations are, and he says “The Last of Us” (TLOU). It struck me right there that Elon could see his prophecy of human extinction being proved through this amazing gaming experience.

In his presentation at the Astronautical Congress in 2016 he laid out a plan to “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species” and colonizing Mars to avoid the danger of becoming extinct due to some unforeseeable incident. Without revealing much, TLOU presents a similar scenario in which human species is infected by a mysterious virus and a chaotic sequence follows which brutally resembles a doomsday apocalypse.

If there’s one person who’d really appreciate a script such as ‘The Last of Us’ it’s definitely Elon Musk.

The Last of Us – A Late Review

I’ve never been so stressed and nervous playing games ever, as I have been with The Last of Us – Remastered on PS4 lately. This has drastically changed my perspective on gaming and so I decided to share my thoughts through this blog post. The Last of Us (TLOU) released on the PS3 by Naughty Dog in 2013 and the PS4 in 2014, I couldn’t play it on the PS3 for reasons that I will describe later in this post but I’m so glad that I picked it up for the PS4.

Naughty Dog launched the mind-blowing and one of my favourites Uncharted 4 in 2016, which is an open world thriller and action-adventure title. In contrast, when I played TLOU I couldn’t bear the thought that it required me to work in stealth to progress in the game. The semantics for Uncharted were quite simple and linear but not with TLOU and that left me disappointed on the PS3. When I started playing the Remastered version (that’s what they call it for the PS4) I looked at it from a new perspective with no comparison with Uncharted, and that’s how it became more enjoyable for me.

The Runners, Clickers, Bloaters are without a doubt the worst characters to face in The Last of Us. Runners are still fine as mêlée attacks will overpower them but I have problems with the Clickers who can overrun you at the slightest noise. The Bloaters are the worst looking and the toughest of the group of infected creatures and I realised very late (after several ‘deaths’) how to defeat them. There’s a specific strategy to defeat these guys individually, or you may just use stealth tactics to go ahead further in the game. But at some point eventually, I’m left with no choice but to face their grunts and horrible attacks. It’s the worst situation in this game, one which I couldn’t come to terms with on the PS3 version.

One of my favourite features in the game is ‘crafting’. You could be creating medicines for yourself (Joel) or mêlée weapons or Shivs (sort of dagger to kill Clickers). To craft any of the items I must constantly scan the surroundings for items like scissors or adhesive tapes or antiseptic and so on. It’s wonderful to note how the game will change for better or worse if you continuously engage or fail to engage in exploring the vicinity for items. I have kept searching for Firefly pendants as well with zero luck. There are Artefacts and Manuals too which will help you to upgrade your weapons and skills, it’s a narrative relevant to a post-apocalyptic world and one which hits you hard when you consider the devastating effects of climate change on the environment. The game’s AI engine is also very sensitive to your moves and will change the gameplay often and keep you immersed.

It’s a great game, and if you own a PS4 you must own a copy. Moving on, let’s see how I can settle my score with the Hunters now.

‘User Interface Design’ In 25 Hottest Skills List for 2016

‘User Interface Design’ made it to the 10th place on LinkedIn’s ‘Hottest Skills of 2015’ Global list — jumping 4 places. It puts ‘User Interface Design’ in the 11th place for Canada. LinkedIn analyzed the hiring and recruiting activity on its website in 2015, and uncovered the 25 hottest skills, and it believes that these skills will stay in demand in the early part of 2016. You can also view the presentation on SlideShare.

LinkedIn - User Interface Design in The Hottest Skills of 2015 - Global

Source: The 25 Skills That Can Get You Hired in 2016 | Official LinkedIn Blog

Time For a Fresh WordPress Theme?

I have mulled to change the current WordPress theme, and it’s not an easy task. In 2014, I chose this design for its RWD capabilities and simply loved it. Almost 2 years later, and after many design analysis, I have realised the flaws which are crucial, not just for the visitors but for me as a designer. Here’s what I have found with my review and why I need changes in the theme desperately.

Search
The all-important search functionality lies buried under a cryptic ‘folder’ icon and glancing at my analytics, not many users have ‘cracked the code’. It’s a worrisome situation if users have to first find the search function, before looking for information.

Font Customization
Despite the Easy Google Fonts plugin, I find it hard to change the font for the H1 tag unless if I edit the stylesheet within the WordPress system (which is very meh!). The one way I can bring subtle changes to the theme and effect a better user-experience is by toying with the typography. I quite frankly want to move away from the current typeface used for H1. I even started a thread on WordPress Support forums for help which is lying ‘dead’.

Featured Image
I think a large featured image is an absolute overkill for a write-up. Unfortunately, for my limited coding skills, I would rather change the theme. Besides, I really don’t need large images to convey meanings.

Blockquotes
Simply large and bloated, and I would appreciate a more subtle approach.

Challenges with New Theme
I’m looking for a new minimalist theme and this is taking time. A changed theme means a new experience for the user, a fresh learning curve. I also have no idea what happens to the design of the posts (i.e. the large featured images) when the new theme takes over. Hopefully, we will know soon.

Lastly, Designing from Scratch
My first priority is to design an original theme. Considering the challenges and limitations, I’m keeping all fingers crossed for now.

Cleaning Up My Calendar And The Chaos

I signed up for a 1-hour webinar for creating a Business Model Canvas in November 2015 and I accepted a calendar (.iCal) invite for the event from my email account. It’s always convenient as a reminder with the event details now etched for eternity in my Calendar on Mac and Google. Soon after, the organizer wrote back saying there was a mistake from their side. The platform used to send the invites “wasn’t meeting the standards for a smooth broadcast”. I thought how serious could this be. My calendar displayed some unidentified entries, such as meeting invites from John Doe, also the host of this webinar, and I deleted them steadfastly. It was chaotic and I falsely thought that my tragedy has ended here.

I’m an infrequent Calendar user on Mac. But ever since this November incident, I started receiving a server connection error every time I would open it. I only realized today that this silly server mishap had rained a deluge of personal entries from John Doe’s calendar onto my calendar entries, right back up to 2011! Apart from the many recurring meetings, there was a court appearance for a traffic offense, some haircut schedules, details on flights, itineraries, and hotel stays, dinner meetings with executives, and more. Not to mention the calendar displayed time and place particulars as well. Much embarrassing as it was for me to know such intimate information from John’s personal schedule, he would be horrified to learn about this rather bizarre leak to more than 20 participants of this seminar!

I began a clean-up operation lasting about an hour, painstakingly glancing and deleting every single entry I could find until 2011 so far. Unfortunately, some of the deleted entries would have sent email notifications causing inconvenience to its participants but it doesn’t matter to me. My calendar was mutilated and my privacy has been wrecked and it led to unimaginable turmoil, thanks to some web platform broadcast which went awry. Now I only hope that John Doe doesn’t have a long-winded career and his entries don’t go far back in time. This incident has taught me an invaluable lesson, that convenience is sometimes costly.