[Depths is a short / flash fiction piece I recently pitched for an anthology submission. Unfortunately it didn’t reach the shortlist this time, but I did receive some very helpful and constructive feedback.]

Deep at the bottom of the ocean is the only place I find peace. Isolated and protected from the madness of the world above, the weight of the seas envelop me like a soft, heavy blanket – the pressures of hostile society replaced with that of atmospherics. A tranquil melody of creaks and groans from the submersible’s inner walls are a soothing remedy to the vitriolic throes that rage on the surface. At this depth, I am cut off from the voices in my ear from my support crew, and the other voices that goad me to flush my oxygen tanks. Here, it is just me, and my observations of the Atlantic floor.

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Time for an Overclock

It’s been about five years since I upgraded to my current PC, and with recent titles like Watchdogs Legion, my GTX 970 is starting to show its graphical age, particularly when you start comparing standard graphics settings to those with RTX enabled. It all looks very clean and shiny. However, Nvidia’s RTX cards are far too expensive for me at the moment. Plus I’m quite reluctant to drop money on say, a 2080 when the new 30 series is now on the market.

So, in a bid to tie me over until the costs level out, I installed MSI Afterburner and Kombustor, and had a go at overclocking the 970. Yep, I’ve finally popped my overclocking cherry.

Following a couple of Youtube Tutorials, I tinkered with the settings, increasing the core clock and memory clock frequencies incrementally before it all started to get a bit unstable. Running tests from before and after the overclocking showed a decent improvement in performance and % score, squeezing a few extra FPS out of the old dear. I also ramped up the fan speed to 100%, so the system stays much cooler when handling more complex processes (even if I now have a small wind turbine under my desk).

If you want some extra visual juice from your machine but don’t have the choice of upgrading to a newer graphics card at the moment, then overclocking your current device might be an option for you. Just bear in mind that it is possible to put too much stress on your setup, so I’d recommend using tools like Afterburner with a guide to avoid damaging your computer.

Tidy Desktop, Tidy Mind.

When I started working from home back in March, I never knew just how long it would be for. Eight months later and I’m still not fully adjusted. I do have a couple of desk plants now.

So to help me focus, and cut down distractions, I recently decided to clean up my busy Windows desktop with a fresh interface using Rainmeter. After checking out a couple of video tutorials, and browsing some plugins and skins over at DeviantArt & the Rainmeter Reddit group, this is what I came up with.

A clutter free, eye pleasing backdrop with Work on the left, and Play on the right.

I used Silmera Dock for the left and right hidden bars, whilst Vecto provides the date, clock and song info (which is linked to Spotify). I chose to centralise & autohide the main taskbar with Taskbar X, and the tiny weather widget comes from Soniq. (Its one of the few that still work). Finally I chose Visbubble for the Equaliser.

The icons used within the left and right docks were mainly sourced from Icons8, then coloured in Photoshop.

Finally, the slick background art is by a highly talented redditor by the name of u/dankosaurus__rex. You can see more of their work over at r/Gundam.

Earth Commerce

Welcome to Earth Major, 2307. Firmware 3.1.53. 

It has been 2 months and 12 days since the last consumer uprising. Estimated GNP loss of  ¥R 42 Billion. Since the Great Capitalist Rebellion of 2205-2209, Corporations are officially recognised as the governing elite, as Commercial Autocracy washed away the obsolete ways of State and Party rule. With the fall of the old establishment, Conglomerates now map the globe. National pride and brand identity has become one and the same.   

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Oct 3 , 2020

It’s been a while, but the 5th episode of Prompt Night will be going live very soon! Rhys and I had a lot of fun recording this new session for the podcast, and whilst the short hiatus did us good, we are back and raring to go. Expect more content on this site too.

I’ve Been Struggling To Write Anything Lately…

My Friends Suggested I Write About It.

For the past couple of months, I have been suffering from Writer’s Drought. “Block” is simply too good a word, suggesting a stream of creative discourse is merely backed up, desperate to be unclogged by some cognitive Mr Muscle. My mind is a barren wilderness. If you listen close enough you may hear the wisp of the occasional heading or opening sentence as it tumbles from ear to ear.

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Supermash and The Art of the Hybrid-Genre

For the past few days, I’ve been playing Supermash, developed and published by Digital Continue. Supermash bids itself as a “game that makes games”. You run a video games store, that’s on the verge of closing, when you discover an old retro console that lets you combine (or mash) two different genres of game together to generate a unique old-school title that borrows elements from your chosen genres.

Every game you generate has its own challenge for you to complete. Whether the task is achievable however, is a whole other story. In fact, Supermash begins with a screen that states:

Supermash doesn’t design games a person would. The mashes can be: Good, Weird, Unbalanced, Incredibly Hard, Super Easy. The fun comes from finding and saving the games and rising to the challenge to overcome seemingly unbeatable mashes.”

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Partial Recall – Passing the Childhood Memory Baton

What’s your earliest memory? I have a particularly vivid snapshot from when we moved house when I was four. Sitting down on the delightfully brown carpet of the living room with boxes all around us, and watching Knight Rider with my family on our small colour television.

That was thirty-four years ago. Crikey.

I also have a vague recollection of an incident from when I was about two. For some incomprehensible reason I gleefully emptied all of my clothes from the lower drawers in my bedroom onto the floor. Ah what a rush! Only for my Mother to walk in and tell me she wasn’t going to put them back, and I quickly realised I had to tidy it all. Cue the tears.

Only, is that a genuine memory? Or is it a fabrication my brain has constructed from being told about it enough times by my parents? It’s entirely likely that this is an implanted, or “fictional memory”.

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Welcome To The World of Tomorrow!

From Annihilation Earth to A Quiet Place, Pacific Rim to Edge of Tomorrow, The film industry’s elaborately fictitious presentations of 2020 have often been pretty grim, typically featuring monsters or alien invasions, being fought with equally elaborate technology such as giant battle mechs and advanced robotic exosuits. Where’s my exosuit? Probably in the garage next to the hoverboard and self-tying shoelaces from 2015…

However, for a more reserved, optimistic portrayal of home-life in Twenty Twenty, we may look no further than a 1989 episode of the classic British TV show Tomorrow’s World.

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New Parenting During a Pandemic Lockdown

This is not the dystopia I had in mind.

In the 2011 film “In Time”, time itself is the ultimate commodity. Those who can afford it enjoy the infinite spoils, whilst everyone else scrambles to hold on to what little they have left. Since becoming a father in February of this year, the latter has become all too increasingly real. It’s barely been 3 months, but the word “spare” has seemingly vanished from my mental dictionary, only to be replaced by “sleep deprivation”. Meanwhile the definition of the word “reality” is steadily being rewritten as the weeks progress. Raising an infant for the first time in any scenario would do just that. During a pandemic however is something we could never expect.

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