2015.

It’s the last day of 2015, and it’s time to take a look at what crazy adventures (none were crazy) the year had to offer. 2015 was the year that…

  • I declared my love for the FIA Formula E championship, but didn’t really take the time to watch any of the races. Formula One is still closer to my heart, but the 2015 season was the most boring one in years. So boring, in fact, I only bothered to write a single F1 entry this year – and that was before the season had even started. Maybe 2016 will be my year of Formula E instead?
  • I spent 14 weeks at home with our daughter Vilde during my parental leave. I had a great time, and I’m pretty sure it was very healthy for Vilde as well to get a bit more attached to me. Since I’m her father and all. I also wrote her an open letter for her first birthday.
  • I wrote a lot of reviews, 14 in total. I reviewed movies, computer games, and… energy drinks. I’ve got a tired and exhausted teenager’s love for energy drinks, so I got this great idea that I should review every single one I drank. The whole project sort of fell apart over time as I began to realize that most energy drinks that don’t come from the big brands taste pretty much the same.
  • Reviews accounted for 18% of the total 78 entries I published this year. 78 is not bad at all, it’s 32 more than last year and 20 more than in 2013. I had more spare time than usual during my parental leave, and while you can easily argue that I should have used that extra spare time for something more productive than writing, I enjoyed being able to sit down and relax with the keyboard. One of the entries I wrote was about wasting time. Or rather that you’re not when you’re doing something you love – perhaps my most important realization this year.
  • The one-liners collection was expanded with even more carefully selected, high quality one-liners; now more than 1,300 in total.
  • Anniken and I sat down to play a video game together. We had a great time playing The Wolf Among Us. Our computer game adventure ended when we solved the mystery and finished the game, though, but Telltale Games has since released more games like it, so maybe we’ll give it another go in 2016?
  • I built myself a brand new home server, VBOX4. Tinkering with hardware still gives me great pleasure. No phallus jokes, please.
  • Podcasts entertained me during my daily commute, and of course I told you what I’m listening to.
  • Someone did their best to organize a primary school reunion, and I was planning to go. But it was cancelled due to the lack of interest from my former class mates, something we probably should have been able to predict.
  • The site got another one of its many redesigns. Although I enjoy the current Editör design, I’m occasionally scouting the web for new designs. Gotta stay fresh!
  • I wrote an Ode to South Park, which is one of my favorite entries of the year – partly because I did a lot of research and partly because I honestly think it’s a piece of interesting and entertaining writing.
  • In May, I sat down with poor Anniken and rated and commented on every single song in the two semi finals and the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Not sure if I’m going through all that trouble next year. Oh, who am I kidding – of course I will!
  • My WordPress plugin, wp-days-ago, saw further releases with enhancements, new translations and bug fixes. I also wrote a piece on how to secure a self-hosted WordPress installation.
  • I tried to find a way to commute a bit faster, and even though a motorized skate board did sound like a lot of fun a death trap, I settled on a old-fashioned kick scooter.
  • Encrypted and private e-mail became a serious thing, and I spent an unhealthy amount of time researching the current state of the market. With a few views shy of 1K views, I’m not sure if it was worth the effort, but at least I got some insight into what is happening with encrypted and private e-mail. Fun fact: I haven’t managed to decide on which provider to use yet, and I’m still stuck with Gmail.
  • Ad blockers started to become a real issue for publishers. I decided to swim against the current and turned off the ad blocker I was using.
  • Volkswagen was busted for cheating during emission testing of some of their diesel engines. We owned a Škoda Superb with one of VW’s fraudulent engines, and in November we decided to vote with our wallets and sold the car. The Škoda was great, but how can you possibly defend doing business with scammers? I, for one, can’t. So here’s a big, fat middle finger to you, Volkswagen.
  • I replaced my Nexus 5 with an LG G4. I did it for the G4’s camera, and it’s great, but it pains me that I have to use LG’s mangled Android mess to get the most out of the camera.
  • With the G4, I continued to take a picture every day, something I plan to do until the day I bite the dust.
  • It was amazing to see how much Vilde grew up during the year. She’s now understanding much of what we’re saying to her – or at least the parts she decides to understand – is able to talk to us to some degree, walks around fairly effortlessly by herself and is starting to develop her own sense of humor. In general, she’s a happy little camper. She loves going to kindergarten, but, as most parents with kids attending a Germ Factory, we do hope she gets less ill in the not-so-distant future.
  • I changed projects at work. As an consultant, I can move from one client to another without actually having to get a new job, which is great. I’m now with the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration, which is the most hated public agency in Norway.
  • Vilde gave me pink eye.
  • Anniken and I got engaged. Good times.

All told, 2015 was a great year. Here’s to 2016, hoping that it will be just as good. Happy new year, dear reader.

Here are summaries from previous years: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004.

Door Kickers.

Door Kickers is a pausable, real-time strategy game developed by the Romanian indie developer KillHouse Games. In top-down view, it puts you in charge of a SWAT team and lets you command it through missions of varying complexity. Whether you chose to go in with guns blazing, or chose the more sophisticated spy-camera, flash bang, three taps in the chest-way, is up to you.

While the sledge hammer and guns blazing-approach might be good enough to get your team unscathed through a mission, it’s more often than not the wrong way of maxing out the score you can achieve on each mission. In the classic Angry Birds style, you collect stars on each mission, with 3 being the maximum amount of stars you can get per mission. The stars you collect can then be used to upgrade your squad’s equipment and weaponry – and there are quite a lot to choose from: Primary weapons, secondary weapons, armor, support gear and utilities, everything from silenced pistols to assault rifles and breaching charges. That you need to collect stars to unlock new gear give you a great incentive to go back and retry missions you don’t already have a perfect score on. Maybe you also want to try some of the challenges Door Kickers gives you; like using a single plan or just one trooper to complete a mission. The game has virtually no loading time, which makes it very easy to retry a mission you’re not entirely happy with.

That Door Kickers is a pausable, real-time strategy game means that it is played in two modes: When the game is paused, you’re in planning mode. In this mode, you can plot paths for your officers to follow through a location and plan various actions they will take along the path. This can be to throw a flash grenade into a room before entering it, place a breaching charge, pick a lock, change from their primary weapon to their sidearm, or another action in a wide selection available to make sure the bad guys are handled in the most efficient way possible. When you unpause the game, all the planned actions are performed in real time. If you’re of the adventurous type, it’s also possible to play Door Kickers entirely in real-time, without pausing and entering planning mode, but keeping track of everything – squad members, hostiles, evidence, and hostages – in real-time isn’t exactly an easy task. Your squad members will automatically engage any hostiles they see, but that’s pretty much the only thing they will do on their own. Everything else is up to you to tell them.

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Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.

Is music art? Most people would probably regard Johann Sebastian Bach‘s compositions as art, while fewer would give the same label to Ariana Grande‘s work. One group of people who definitively define music as art is Wu-Tang Clan. In March 2014, the New York City hip hop group announced that they would be releasing exactly one copy of their next album, Once Upon in Shaolin. Many artists make special collector’s editions of their albums, but Wu-Tang certainly decided to take it to the next level, as explained by member RZA:

“The idea that music is art has been something we advocated for years. And yet its doesn’t receive the same treatment as art in the sense of the value of what it is, especially nowadays when it’s been devalued and diminished to almost the point that it has to be given away for free. […] We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”

You might think that this isn’t really a problem for people who would want to listen to the album. Sure, that one exclusive copy would be expensive, but why couldn’t a record label simply purchase the album and make it available through streaming and hard copies? They’d quickly cover the cost of purchasing the master album through licensing and sale of copies, wouldn’t they? In theory, it’s a great idea, but the good fellas of Wu-Tang are way ahead of you: The sales contract contains a clause that the album can’t be commercially exploited until 88 years after its purchase. It can be exhibited publicly and it can be given away for free, however, but that meant the buyer had to be a good guy without any commercial incentives, and people like that are few and far between.

Disregarding RZA’s massive ego, I thought what Wu-Tang was doing with Once Upon A Time In Shaolin was brilliant.

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A Picture A Day 2015.

Ah, yes. It’s December, which mostly means I publish posts summarizing the year. I’ve got a couple of other posts in the works, but getting them done before the year ends depends on Vilde not getting ill with a cold and a fever every other day. How she manages that, I don’t know. Maybe she’s allowed to run around nekkid in the kindergarten. So this entry is just another one of those typical December post, and this time we’ll look at how I did with my A Picture A Day project in 2015.

On the technical side, I added a feature that allow visitors to favorite pictures. Since the project is my personal Instagram1, I’m adding some similar features. So far, pictures have been favorited mostly by myself and Anniken, so I’m not collecting virtual hearts at the rate of Kendall Jenner2 just yet.

During 2015, on September 21 to be exact, I got to the magical 1000 pictures mark. Not all of those one thousand pictures and the ones shot since can be describe as “works of art” – actually, none of them can – but I’ve taken the liberty to select 12 highlights of 2015. Not because they are great shots, but either because I like them or because they remind me of what happened this year: We actually had a little snow early in the year, I ate a few Kebabs, Vilde and I had a great time during my parental leave, the whole family went to Denmark for a week on summer vacation, I spent a lot of time either waiting for or on the boat to and from work, and now we’re waiting for the snow to come back.

In summary? Quite the ordinary year.

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2015 in Music.

2015 has been a peculiar year for me in terms of music. I spent three months on parental leave, and during those three months, I covered quite the distance with the baby sleeping in the stroller. But I didn’t listen to music while walking, instead I devoted my time to podcasts. Loads and loads of podcasts. Because of that, 2015 wasn’t a year where I discovered a lot of new artists – but of course there were some.

According to Last.fm, my top 50 artists for 2015 were: Lonely The Brave, Nils Frahm, Solar Fields, Frank Sinatra, Biffy Clyro, Matthew Good, Florence + the Machine, The Midnight, Aes Dana, Dean Martin, All Tvvins, Daniel Kvammen, Adam Fielding, Ólafur Arnalds, Hiatus, Tom Day, Mumford & Sons, Kiasmos, Eddie Roberts & The Fire Eaters, Coldplay, The Weeknd, Asura, Hol Baumann, Sting, Soak, Karsten Pflum, Ben Howard, Dance With The Dead, Duke Ellington, Sync24, Michael Cassette, DJ Shadow, The War on Drugs, Magic Sword, Pearl Jam, Miles Davis, Duke Dumont, I Awake, Lymbyc Systym, Eskmo, Ed Sheeran, H.U.V.A. Network, Demoscene Time Machine, Circular, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Years & Years, Kim Cesarion, Michael Bublé, Miktek, and The American Dollar.

Usually, I also pull data from Spotify’s Year in Music, but this year’s version will make all your UX friends cry and your CPU bleed. It doesn’t contain any of those nifty graphs we all love either.

Anyway. Here are 5 artists I discovered in 2015. It was remarkably hard to find information about two of the artists, so the description is a bit scarce, to put it that way. But the text isn’t really what’s important, their music is. The information I did manage to find is either lifted off the artist’s official site, last.fm, Spotify or Wikipedia without permission and the copyright belongs to the respective owners.

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