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Keith “Mandrill” Neilson
AKA Mandrill
AKA Mandrill

Keith's posts

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I'm beginning to unleash my imagination on my blog and will be posting short fiction as regularly as I can manage. The first piece went up today ( Problem is that I'd quite like to have an image to go with it.

It's been suggested on twitter that I should search for creative commons images that others have posted, but then I wouldn't know that the artist had been directly inspired by the piece in question.
I've already been told off because someone on twitter interpreted my tweet regarding this as a request for professional work for 'exposure', which it most certainly isn't.

This barely a request, more of a suggestion, that if my work inspires someone I'd quite like to know about it. If I want to use anything inspired by my work that is brought to my attention I'll contact the artist personally and we can discuss the terms of use.

The way I see it, I'm putting my work online for free, there aren't even any ads on my site (at the moment, that may change in future). I'm doing it for the practice mainly, and to work literary muscles that haven't seen much use in a while. Do artists in other media not do this as well? Is it not much better to bounce ideas off each other than let them careen around the echo chamber of our own skulls?

I'm also going to take the advice of the person on twitter, to search for CC artwork and see if it stirs anything in me. This works both ways, after all. ;)

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Who's playing Elite:Dangerous and writing/creating stuff about it?

Humdrum humdrum humdrum :/

#Braindump  2

The Secret Lives of Lighters and Those They Encounter.

Bit of a mad one this.

I have a theory that lighters (disposable, cheap plastic ones you get at the corner shop, not expensive ones) do not actually belong to anyone. As a smoker, I find that lighters enter and leave my life at a fairly regular pace and yet I very rarely have to buy one. This must mean that Lighters ciculate, migrate, and travel.

I found myself wondering about the people who these itinerant lighters visit and spend time with, before moving on to the next one. This developed into a mad idea.

Take a Clipper lighter, combine it with a USB flash drive. On this drive will be a barebones operating system whose only function, from the end user's point of view) is to allow the typing of text into an editor.

On the lighter/flashdrive hybrid is written the simple instructions: "Plug Me In (Boot)"

The USB drive boots to a simple text editor which opens with the following message already entered:

"The next time someone asks you for a light, or you offer a light to someone, give them this lighter and tell them they can keep it. Delete this message and write whatever you want in here. Thank you."

The user writes. Anything goes. Seriously, absolutely anything. They can choose to remain anonymous or not, or use a pseudonym, or not. Anything that can be communicated in a purely written form, poetry, fiction, GPS co-ordinates, mathematical formulae. Anything.

These writings are not saved on the USB, while the computer is plugged in and powered up, the text entered only exists in the active memory of the computer. Once the power is cut it is gone, but not before it is encrypted and uploaded to the server.

The barebones OS on the drive opens the same text editor with the same message every time it's plugged in. The editor will be a basic notepad editor, but the only function in the file menu will be "save and quit". Selecting this option will encrypt the entered text and immediately upload it to the server. Nothing will be saved on the USB or any HDD present on the user's computer, the USB OS will not even access any existing dirves. No identifying information will be stored by the servers, indeed none will be transmitted by the USB OS if at all possible. The only meta data attached to each text entry will be the date and the lighter's unique ID.

Once has received a predetermined number of encrypted entries, an admin will be prompted to enter the decryption key, which will also simultaneously publish each entry as a dated blog post, indexed by the lighter ID that the text originated from. The count will then start again and a new decryption key generated for the next time the threshold is reached.

Once the first batch is published, it then has the possibility to become a conversation. With people replying to specific posts from the last batch. (possibly provide for some method of cross-linking these posts using Lighter ID and date as a reference). It may even be the case that some choose to disregard the instruction and keep the lighter for as long as it survives, this could be quite some time if the lighter is a Clipper.

The episodic postings also lend themselves to on-going print publication, though some form of editing should be implemented in such a case. Possibly include a crowd-sourced rating and selection process for such an eventuality. Users will also be able to flag posts they find offensive, disturbing, or to have adult content, as well as those that are just gibberish (I predict there will be a few posts of "oirhtnesoirghsl;kngeorighagaerpgoj" etc)

I'll leave you with the disclaimer on the splash page of

"The owners of take no responsibility for the content posted here, caution should be exercised. We present this content without comment, as a record of humanity, and the lives of lighters."

That's #braindump  2, what do you think? Is this doable? What possible pitfalls can you see? 

Where to start with Unity?

Seriously, I have no idea.

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Welcome to the first of what I intend to be a weekly #braindump .

I have a variety of online outlets for the crap that floats around in my head. Each with it's own particular purpose.
My Blog ( is currently playing host to a series of post outlining something I've been thinking about and reading around for about 6 months or so.
Facebook is for, well, the 'inconsequential' things that Facebook is for. Family, baby pictures, pets, nights out and more 'real-world' crossover.
Twitter (@mandrill) I use as a sort of shout into a crowded room. Sometimes I get a response, sometimes I don't. When I do it's almost always interesting though, if brief and fleeting.
I have a tumblr ( too, and that is mainly for bad poetry and reblogging other peoples stuff. 

I plan to use G+ as somewhere I can put my more random ideas and thoughts that isn't my Drive. Where they can be exposed and tested by others. Criticised, added to, amended and edited. Refined by many intellects rather than simply echoing around the inside of my skull. I welcome all participation, but be cool about it please.

Right, that's the preamble out of the way. On, to business.

I have an image of a game in my head, a shape, and a style. Played on PC, it's an ARPG, but more with a more sci-fi/steampunk/space-based setting. It's something I've been looking for, hankering after, a decent sci-fi ARPG with all the looty goodness and isometric viepoint of Diablo III

The galaxy spanning setting provides room for plenty of creativity, The way I see it is that life and intelligence have evolved elsewhere in the Galaxy but humanity was first. This is not the utopian ideal galaxy of Star Trek; where humanity joins the  other races in peace to explore the galaxy. In this future, WE are the pinnacle of intelligent civilization and technological prowess. But there are still powers and phenomenon out there that we do not understand.

Clarke's Law applies; "Any technology, if sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic."

To keep with the ARPG idea, most of the alien life will be little more than animals, and loot will still play a big role. Loot will be in the form of genetic material, through which the player can adapt their own genes. Improving their strength, speed, and intelligence. 

Those aliens which are more than just beasts are a maximum of WWII level technology. With the tech levels of the alien species ranging from tribal (think the Fallen in D3) to a kind of Dieselpunk feel along with the heavier weaponry that would imply.

Intelligence would also be used for research, gear would need to be researched and crafted. Humanity being the most advanced species in the galaxy would mean that farming for better weapons would not be an option, unless you won them in PvP. Resources for research and crafting would be dropped by mobs or harvested from nodes on conquered planets.

The single player game would basically be an endless progression. Two progression mechanics would operate; the Genotype would be determined by how far from the human standard the character had deviated, either cybernetically, or genetically.  While Experience would be a more traditional progression mechanic and would be potentially limitless. The training/ leveling mechanic with experience would be EVE like, in that you selected a skill to train and all experience gained went into that skill. Each level of any skill gained counts as your level total and the cost of skill level rises in the same manner as other traditional levelling mechanics (such as D3 or WoW) regardless of the skill being trained.

Co-op would work much the same as D3, with players teaming up against appropriately scaled enemies. The split of the spoils being agreed beforehand. This opens up a lot of possibilities for guilds, raids, and the like.

PvP would come in many flavours. From E-Sports friendly arena based 1v1, 2v2, etc, matches, to bands of players going up against each other and their environments to conquer a resource heavy planet for their 'empire'

There is no way on earth that I could ever make this a reality, none at all. It is just taking up system resources in my head and now I've got it written down somewhere other people can read it.

The first #braindump  is done. Enjoy.
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