Computing (normal)

So a new year, a new start. True, it might be enforced rather than through choice but it has to happen all the same.

I’ve been looking for a career type job since the end of June 2010. Obviously, I’ve done some paid work since then including excavation, watching briefs and a stint in Game. All of these were (in various doses) fun, dull, warm, cold, exciting, mindless but money is money and the mortgage doesn’t stop just because work does.

So if I’ve been after a computing and or archaeology career advancing job since June why am I ranting now, 6 months later?

Well, because an otherwise perfectly decent saturday morning was ruined by the arrival of a letter informing me that I haven’t reached the interview stage for a post I really wanted. Not only did I really want the job but I could have carried out all the essential tasks blindfolded and handcuffed, presuming my fingers were free to type. I hear you saying that these things happen all the time and there are more fish in the sea etc (unless you’ve been watching the channel 4 fish season and I recommend that you do). However, the fact that the letter kindly informed me that a shortlisting officer had reviewed my application made me nearly spill my now tainted by letter opening cup of tea. What kind of job/person is that? Does that mean that my application didn’t even make it into the hands of someone who could understand the value of my experience and past work? Some HR monkey who couldn’t see context, only keywords? The same organisation turned down my application for another post a few months ago, so that HR person can expect a fairly stern phonecall this coming Monday asking why I wasn’t shortlisted. Grr!

Cheer up! you might say. Well thanks and I will shortly when I get some vino. In the meantime, I am left to ponder my future in Archaeology/Heritage/actually caring about our past. I have specialist skills. I have 5 years of varied experience. I can dig but I can also write book chapters and arrange international conference sessions about it. I think, if I do say so myself, that I am sometimes pretty bloody awesome at this stuff. Let us return to reality though, and the aforementioned mortgage. I can’t hold out for a career job forever. It’s been 6 months. I can go another 6 if I can pass the time with temping etc.

After that I fear that the discipline in which I have honed my considerable skills will lose me to a something else. I’m not sure what at the moment, but probably something that can guarantee me work for more than a month at a time and pays even half decently. I’ll probably pimp my computing skills out instead. I’d be really sad, angry and worried to leave archaeology to Camerons daft idea of a big society, which I suspect may happen as more decent archaeologists succumb to pay cuts, job cuts and downsizing. The Scottish government cuts won’t even kick in until later this year, so that’ll be something exciting to look forward to as well, not. I want to find out how many of the people I did the IFA placements with actually have clung onto an archaeology job in the long term, and I don’t meant went into further training or phds. I mean actual careers. Their website doesn’t say, maybe it is too embarrassing? Who knows? If we all have to bail out of archaeology then the skills deficit the bursaries sought to heal won’t be changed at all. Which would be a shame, not to mention a possible waste of pennies.

2011 will be the year that decides a lot of things for a lot of people, I’m just hoping that this time next year I can still call myself an archaeologist/heritage person, not some sort of suit wearing corporate drone. Albeit one who is now an elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries – hooray!



So this week saw me starting my new Christmas temp job at Game. The time of year and the slash in spending brought to culture and heritage by the Tories means that now certainly isn’t the best time to be looking for an archaeology job. Game appears so far to have lovely people to work with and lets face it, there isn’t really any sell needed as people wouldn’t be in there if they didn’t want a game of some sort. We even have something called Tractor Simulator, so there really is something for everyone.

But I digress – back to Fallout. It came out on Friday which happily was my first shift. Staff discount and one trade in card later I was home with the shiny sequel to Fallout 3 for £0.00. Woo!

On first looks it appears much like Fallout 3 but it has a lot more depth, I think. The scenery and characters are brighter, more colourful – since the nuclear fallout hasn’t hit the east coast so badly and we’re a few years further on, Vegas has electricity and lights! Stick Fallout 3 back on for a bit and the contrast between colours is marked. Scavenging becomes a much bigger deal. Sure, you can still pick up ammo and weapons around the world but the new ‘Reloading bench’ means that you can craft your own ammo from parts or breakdown unwanted bullets to turn them into something useful. High enough Science points and you can even make your own Plasma and Energy weapons. You also have to make like Ray Mears and use your survival skills at campfires dotted around the Mojave. Bring ingredients (and sometimes science or survival points) and you can cook up a healthy dinner from nothing more than a mole rat and a jalapeno. Yum. The map is much smaller than Fallout3, but so far I think its more detailed. I’ve only had about 4 hours gametime though – the joys of a one xbox household and two people wanting to play a dead courier out for revenge :p

I’m off to kick the OH off the xbox and get me some headshots.

I came home earlier and switched on Fable 2 – not played it in ages! At least since before Christmas! I feel bad for abandoning it, but I’ve had Tombraider and Lego games calling me 🙂

I question myself – why oh why did I stop playing! It’s amazing! I completed the main story last time, and chose Love at the end. Scary blind lady, voiced by x, lets you choose between Love, Sacrifice and Wealth. Love brings your family and dog back to life so you can complete the Archaeology quest etc. My annoying hubby and child are also back though 😦 I also aged, well, my hair has turned grey!

Choosing love also made the world a happier, colourful flowery place. Seriously, it looks better. Everyone loves me, which can get annoying when you get mobbed in town for autographs but it does bring you loads of gifts.Now the game is complete, I can buy Castle Fairfax and Brightwood Tower as well a bunch of other fancy buildings. You’ll need serious amounts of money though, hundreds of thousands of thousands. That means loads of quests and buying up businesses to get rent. Apparently, if you leave the xbox on, your businesses will still accrue money (but not your houses) so that might help.

I’m going to play it again, and choose something else at the end. Bring it on!

Hours of my time since the end of the holidays have been taken up with running around after artefacts, changing outfits, and delving into mythology and archaeology. Yes, a typical day for an archaeology researcher so ticking all the boxes of my day job but also Tomb Raider underworld.

Yes, the first new opiate of 2009 has been discovered by me! And I love it. I’ve lved all the Tomb radiers. Yes, I know that the controls for the playstation were odd, i know that the pointy boobs in the early games were annoying, that the exact lining up of jumps on the pc was frustrating and that the stories just get more and more weird, but what other game makes Archaeology look so cool and therefore is the perfect antidote to the current crisis in that field? (Actually, the archaeologist quests in Fable 2 are pretty cool.) I’ll post more about it here when I get a few levels through, but so far, so good!

Lego Indiana Jones is now flashing up that I’ve done 100% of the game, a little incorrect, as there are still at least 20 acheivements I haven’t unlocked so should it really be saying 100% done? Not sure.

It was an incredibly fun game to play, with loads of laughs and movie refs which I guess woudl have been amusing even to non archaeologists 🙂 For example, Indy is, like in the films, scared of snakes. Willie still hates bugs. Gameplay wise, this means that you have to be someone else to solve a puzzle or cross a space that has snakes, adding another level of puzzles!

Free play in this is so much cooler than in Lego Star Wars and the characters so much cuter.  The replayability in trying to find every single piece of treasure and artefact is addictive, but in some levels gets really irritating when you have 9/10 and *really* can’t see the last bit (the treasure detector parcel comes in handy here). The sheer amount of unlockable characters is also excellent, with each fitting into a special ability category so that you might need an academic (Henry Jones Sr, Marcus etc), an excavator or high jumping girly to solve puzzle types.

The vehicles are also way better than in Star Wars, with loads to unlock and the vehicles are a lot easier to handle than the dodgy x, y, b wings so you can have more fun exploring the level and less frustration crashing.

The biggest downside is that the camera is still fixed, so you end up falling ledges and cliffs quite a lot because you can’t quite see where you are going. I guess in a game that is probably aimed at kids then adding a camera manipluation button might have been a bit much. Grown ups might appreciate it though!

I’m nearly finished Lego Indy on the xbox and this upsets me. What will I do when it ends?! Lego Batman still has two weeks before it comes out 😦

Anyone who hasn’t seen the game, where have you been? Inspired by the Indy Lego, it came out in May but I managed some self control and didn’t buy it until after Silchester. It got 8 out of 10 on IGN and it *so* deserves it. It takes at least three goes through a level to get all the coins, treasure and artefact parts out of it. It’s just so cool, you have to play it. See my gamer score in the sidebar there? What I don’t get, is that I only have about 14% left to play but still need to unlock about 20 achievements! Where are they? There are excellent secret levels too! Lego Star Wars was really good fun but the characters are so much cooler in this, and have better personalities of their own. I can only imagine how great Batman will be! Hooray!

I caved and bought GTA4 today. I got hooked at the weekend when in Loughborough and thought I wouldn’t need it because Indiana Jones lego is on pre order for a week today – 2 games in a week!

I’m about 5% through so far, and haven’t yet seen much gun action or ladies of the night. This is probably because I still haven’t managed to get the driving thing down yet and crash all the nice shiny cars I steal. I only stopped playing tonight because I’m stuck on a driving mission 😦 trying to chase down a man who hasn’t paid protection money to the mob – nice 🙂

It is such a cool game though, and the weather and lighting effects are really really pretty. I don’t get what all the fuss is about the violence and so on, its just a really well thought out, pretty, open game.

The other really cool thing is the car radio – apparently, Iggy Pop and Karl Lagerfeld do the voices for some of the DJ’s and Iggy chose all the songs. Cool. I’ll rate it when I get it, but right now its running at about a 7 out of 10 🙂