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12 Resolutions for 2012. Some will be tough. Advice is welcome.

1) Learn to drive.
2) Sell my house.
3) Write a book.
4) Run 5km without stopping.
5) Learn to code.
6) Compose at least one substantive post on G+ every day.
7) Create a personal image every week.
8) Lose 14kgs (31lbs) of weight.
9) Go somewhere awesome with the kids every week.
10) Do a clothes wash every day (where possible).
11) Upload a photograph every day.
12) Halve my gaming budget.

1) This is a no-brainer. It's reached that point in my life where I need to learn to drive. I've managed with Edinburgh's excellent local transport for almost two decades, but now I have kids that need to attend awkwardly located classes and want to visit distant friends. Further, I have far-off relatives that find travel to us difficult. A car would resolve this, so it's time to buy the driving gloves and goggles.

2) Because of a sewage flood, I've been out of my house for almost two years. Two fucking years. Currently, it's a mote-filled badland full of rubble and old tat. I hate the place. It's time to pressure the insurance to finish the bloody job, then sell, sell, sell. It was a lovely place, but now I can't even think about it without grinding my teeth in frustration.

3) With both kids at school I have the time to write a book, so I should, because I want to.

4) Running 5km without stopping. Really? 5 could as well be 50 for my current level of fitness. Time to fix that. I used to be able to run 5k with ease, but then that was two decades ago, and I could do pretty much anything I put my mind to with ease. Sure, 5k is no marathon, but running half a kilometer is enough to kill me just now, so 26 miles seems to be in the realms of utterly unachievable to me, where 5k seems worth a resolution.

5) I've wanted to learn how to code an app for a while, but never put time aside for it. Mostly, I want to support my rpg game with homebrewed apps, but I suppose there could be some money in it. Not sure where to begin here, but that's what the internet is for.

6) I need to keep myself in the writing habit, and avoid the misanthropy I covet, so feel posting regularly on G+ could help. Only one post a day should be easy enough to keep up with, surely? Stop laughing.

7) I draw less for myself these days. Commissions get in the way. I don't like this, as it makes drawing a chore, something only done for money, and that sours the arty joy. So, time to draw for myself more. This resolution's wording means very little to me -- I don't actually care if I create one piece a day, week, month, or year -- it's the spirit that's important: I resolve to draw more for my own enjoyment. Still, it's nice to have a target simmering away on the back ring of the hob.

8) I lost loads of weight in the latter months of 2011. Christmas came. I put almost all of it back on. Ooops. Back to stage one.

9) The kids are now at the age where they delight in visiting cool, interesting places. I'm innately lazy. I shouldn't allow the latter to influence the former. We recently visited the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh, and it was an awesome day out. I want more of those, please; at least 52...

10) I'm shit at keeping on top of the laundry. Really shit. It's time I grew up a little and stopped being so shit.

11) I have a camera that cost a gazillion pounds, and I hardy use it outside work, for all I love photography. Further, I'm constantly snapping images of the kids that hunker away on my iPhone, never appreciated by friends and family. I resolve to tackle this.

12) I spent, after trade-ins and similar are taken into account, about £1200 on video games this year. This isn't just for me, mind. +Lindsay Law games as well, and so do my kids, and we have to fuel our habits on PC, iOS, PS3, and 360, but £1200 is still far too much money, and much of it was simply wasted. Steam Sales and PSN+ say 'Hi', Andrew. Stop wasting money on buying games at their release (which will be half the price within a couple of months), or buying any PSN or XBLA game (which will be free on PSN+, or a fraction of the price on Steam).

So, that's it. Comments, ridicule, suggestions, similar, welcome.
Alan Law's profile photoPhil Rodkoff's profile photoCat Tobin's profile photoAndrew Law's profile photo
Happy new year! Or if you're not happy then just, 'New Year!'
As for 5: What platform are you thinking of developing for and do you have much programming experience?
As for 12: I'm just refusing to play any games at all until I've made one and it's selling well! Skyrim would be professional suicide in this regard.
+Tim Luther Lewis - iOS. Everyone in my gaming group has an Apple device of some kind, and that isn't likely to change any time soon.

As for coding experience: HAhahHahahahahHAhAh!


I haven't coded since I was 16 (I did an HND course in computer coding between High School and working for Games Workshop, and sunk all my grant money into opening a shop selling GW miniatures and RPG stuff!) -- i.e.: I'm an utter noob. Still, I'm a clever guy, and I have time, so I think I'll be able to pick it all up if I apply myself, which I will. Just not sure where to begin as of yet.

And, yes, Skyrim is professional suicide; avoid. I didn't, and my free time vanished. To make matters worse for me, I recently picked up Fallout: New Vegas in the Steam sale, and intend to mod it to within a inch of its life. As you say: professional suicide. I shouldn't do these things to myself. But, so much gaming goodness...

Perhaps I should have a 'manage my time effectively' resolution as well? :D
Forget about number 8. If you do number 4, number 8 will happen by itself.

My partner is a fitness instructor and she works hard to move people's attention off arbitrary things such as weight and on to practical things such as walking upstairs without getting out of breath.

By chance, my partner has also just complete a photo-a-day challenge for 2011 and is planning to do it again for 2012. She comment the other day that she felt setting the goal of one photo a day was better than seven a week. One a day makes it habitual and now the camera is never far from her hand. She also did not put any quality or subject restrictions on it. Which meant that when ill or very busy, she could take a shot of anything without worrying it wasn't good enough.
I've been very good regarding all Bethesda output since Oblivion. I am afraid that this victory is merely delay and that, as prophesied, I shall sink another 200 hours into that massive time hole (I can hear the rousing chorus of a nordic male voice choir. Must... resist). Sorry, I'm back.
I haven't started on iOS yet, had my hands full with Android and that's been fine. I shall port to iOS when I have the time.
That said, people say it's a nice enough environment to work in.
What you will need is:
A mac
XCode (available cheap as chips on the apple app store, the one for macs, not iOS)
Lots of example code
Some guides to start programming objective C.

My advice to anybody starting programming is always the same - have a definite project in mind and work towards that project. Your first implementation will probably suck, it will be painful and slow to make but by the end, you'll have learned how to code something.
One of the best way to learn a new thing is usually to break something that already exists - hence why I listed example code. Get other people's projects compiling and then mess around with them until they break. Go through each line of their code and if there's something you don't understand, google it.
Break every problem in to manageable chunks. Even the most complicated of applications is made up of many, many smaller problems that were solved along the way.

Anyway, that's how I started. I decided to write a 3D modelling program 20 years ago (I couldn't afford 3D Studio)- I did and I'm still writing and using new versions of it now. It's got me every job I've ever had since and now it helps me write my own games.

Anyway, sorry for the essay. Good luck!
+Chris Tregenza -- Hmm, I think I like the photo-a-day thing as well. I sense an edit in my future. Watch the above space. Thanks for dropping the suggestion in.

As for the weight loss: you have a very good point, but I work well enough with arbitrary targets that have no innate sense or meaning, especially a since I combine them with practical targets such as you describe (miles to walk, inches to run, and such like). After all, I lost the weight once already (and how much easier was it to put on than off?!), so it's not daunting to me, though it will take a while. :)

Also: Happy New Year! I hope it's an awesome one, and I hope 6D6 goes from strength to strength for you. :)
+Tim Luther Lewis -- Sound advice, especially as it marries well with my uneducated, unresearched thoughts on how I would proceed (it's always nice not to feel the idiot). That said, how does Android work in comparison, if you don't mind me asking? I've never dabbled in the Android side of the market, but would be happy to consider it if the support was stronger. However, if it's broadly identical, iOS makes most sense for me since that's what my group are already invested in.
On the app front, bear in mind that non-jailbroken iOS devices won't run your home brewed app unless it makes it all the way to the Apple store (unless I'm much mistaken).

In the writing front, may I offer the following advice from Lawrence Block (who's book "Telling lies for fun and profit" I'd heartily recommend if you want an insight into the writing process): write at least one page EVERY SINGLE DAY. There will be days that you hate it, days you write rubbish and days that you'd rather do anything else. But the only way to write is to actually WRITE, and even on your worst day, you could manage one page, surely? Then, after a year, you've got 365 pages! (366 this year.) (Note, that's Block's words, not mine.)

Also, good luck and happy new year!
+Andrew Bell - Good point, on both counts. :)

Also: Happy New Year to you and yours, too. :D
A quick shufti at my bookshelves reveals my copy of Telling Lies is surprisingly handy, if you want a loan of it come next weekend. 
This is an interesting and hugely ambitious list. As has been noted 4. and 8. are closely tied with each other. Do 4., reduce cheese and butter/cream (and beer) from your diet, and 8 will happen.

Similarly, I would tie 6. to 11.: Even if they are not related, when you do your post, upload a photograph. And, if 10. is really an issue, you now have a time to do it -- during the wash cycle. Making a habit of it, and having a set time for getting things done is the only way to do this. And you can incentives yourself: no games unless you have done some exercise (4.) and your photo-and-post (10. and 11.). That then ties 12. in as well.

1., 2., 7., and 9. are all sensible, and will add to your overall happiness. especially 2. and 9.

3. and 5. are the biggies. Once you have your routine established (and not before then), I would pick one. Both are jobs that require hundreds of hours of creative thinking energy -- I find I sometimes can't get 1 good hour a day (though sometimes 10 is possible). A page a day is one way to approach writing. Again, it needs to be time you can dedicate when you are at your best. I have no idea on how to approach learning to code: while I agree it sounds a cool idea, for me it's not worth losing the many hundreds of hours to be able to do something badly when the time could be spent writing. And again, incentives. If you like games, then let them be your reward.

When I write, I try to set firm deadlines for myself. I fail, and that creates the inevitable spiral of self-loathing, but still I know deadlines help. A commitment to show stuff to other people on a fixed schedule (not necessarily for feedback, but for accountability) is one of the methods I have used.
The big difference between iOS and Android is the 'natural' language of the platform. In iOS, you use objective C which is a kind of apple variant of C, a sort of alternative to C++. I haven't much experience of it but the C family languages have much in common.
On Android, the primary language is 'Java' but you can use C/C++ on either platform, it's just a bit of a pain to set up. On android, most of the code I write is in Java with the occasional bit of C/C++ for the tricksy bits. Many developers have a common core code base that's in C++ and they just write some scaffolding around it in Java or Objective C for each platform. That has the advantage of a single code base but C++ tends to take longer to compile than other languages so you lose out there (the fact that java is so quick to develop in is why I've forgone writing more of my android stuff in C++ - I can always convert it later).

Other than the programming language, most people also use an IDE (integrated development environment) which simplifies many project related tasks. On iOS/Mac platforms, the IDE of choice is usually XCode, on android I'd recommend Eclipse (and you can get it for Mac, linux and windows, which means it's a lot easier to get started developing Android if you don't own a mac). Other IDEs include visual studio but I wouldn't recommend that, the latest versions are horrible and slow.
It's worth mentioning that it's very hard to develop for iOS if you don't already own a mac.
If you want to run a set distance, and motivate yourself to do so, then enter an event and get sponsorship for it. That way you can't back out, and will have an incentive to train. Admittedly, I ran a marathon without looking for sponsorship, but my motivation for going out and running was to get some peace, so if you can find another motivator along those lines then go for that instead.
+C. W. Marshall - Thanks for the commentary. It's appreciated.

I agree it's an ambitious list, but if I don't aim high, I'll never reach the stars, and similar nonsense. I'm not too bothered if I hit every resolution, but they do represent a good cross-section of my intentions for the year, so I feel are worth codifying in a less nebulous form than would be normal for me.

And, yes, 4 and 8 are largely the same thing, but as I'm diabetic (amongst other issues), weight is a very important part of my continued good health, so I want to ensure I keep focus on it. That said, I almost replaced the weight loss with eat 5 fruit and veg every day, but figured I'd be setting myself up for sure failure pretty quickly, as I'm just not that consistently good.

I fully agree that 3 and 5 are the biggies, but they are arguably less large than they may initially appear. Setting and hitting writing targets has never been much of an issue for me. I've written for Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games on a professional basis, and write for my own games on an almost daily basis (not that I ever seem to get anywhere with them -- that's something else I should have set a resolution for, I suppose). Resolution 3 is there simply to remind me that I want to write a book from beginning to end for myself. If a novel, I'll aim for about 80,000 to 100,000 words (maybe, depending upon what I decide -- could be much less, could be far more). If an rpg, I'll probably be looking at 120,000 to 160,000 words. An rpg would be far easier, but less satisfying, I think. Not as easy as writing a book for my kids, though, but that'd be a huge cheat. ;)

As for the coding: as I simply want to teach myself what to do, and it has no easily identifiable and achievable goal, per se, it's more of an on-going project rather than a win or lose situation. Next year, assuming it all goes well, I imagine I'll aim to write a professional app. If it doesn't go well this year, or I don't enjoy it, I can simply chalk it all up to experience. I think I may just look for a course supplied by one of the local universities or colleges as a starting point (not something I would normally consider -- I'm a do-it-myself kinda guy, normally) -- it could be a good foundation to build my own learning around.

Whatever happens, I'll do my very best to avoid the spiral of self-loathing and self-doubt that I'm all too aware can come hand-in-hand with these sort of things when they go awry. Or, at least, I'll try. :D
+Tim Luther Lewis - Hmm. Much to consider. I think I'm best to approach this with one thing in mind: what do I want to do with what I learn?

I'm still not sure what the answer to that is. I think I'll ponder it for a day or two so I can view the programming thing with a definite goal in mind. I have loose ideas, but they completely lack the focus required to tackle this properly, I think.
+Ben Thomas - Good idea. That said, I'm hugely lazy, so could I actually be bothered to get any sponsorship? Having a target to aim for (a fun run, or whatever) sounds wise, though. For me, my motivation behind the running is mostly based upon getting my body fitter to prepare for whatever surgeries the NHS throws my way later in the year (assuming that happens).
OK, I'm not your mother or anything, but I think there's a vast difference between some of the resolutions on that list and others. Washing your clothes and uploading photographs, OK, whatever right?

Coming out and saying you're hugely lazy is kind of glib, but it's a bit.... I don't know.... Hell, maybe you don't like running. Perhaps you'd enjoy kayaking, dancing or karate more, who knows. You're in the capital of Scotland, the world is your oyster. But I think you really need to make a choice - sitting and writing a novel and iPhone apps on top of, lets face it, the huge amount of time you put into gaming doesn't really work alongside a commitment to lose weight and get fit. I'd say of all the things on the list perhaps losing weight and getting fit might be the most important. Yes, you could go under a bus tomorrow, but ultimately if you want to stick around on the planet for as long as possible (for your own benefit, as well as your kids) being diabetic and overweight isn't the way to go about it. Somehow you have to find the motivation to offset the lazy and actually address it - and I'm afraid I don't buy any sort of genuine commitment from what you've written so far. Unless it's important to you, I don't think you'll do it.

So you have two choices, one is to write it down, soft of half attempt it, and then give up after 3 weeks, or the other is to sit and really think about how you could do it in a way you can sustain. Not just for a week, or a month, but for a year or more. If it isn't really important, then your other choice is simply to accept that you aren't going to address it, and go ahead and do the other stuff, accepting the good and bad that comes with it. I think this is a valid choice as well, but if you do it then you need to be at peace that this is what you're choosing to do.

I don't want to come across as a preachy arsehole, but I've been there. I was "there" for years, and looking back I just wish I'd done what I'm doing now when my knees weren't quite as shot, and there weren't as many lines on my face.

Anyway, carry on. Sorry. Proxy rant in a way, as my g/f says this every year, and just get irritated.
I like your list. It has a good mix of stuff around the house, health stuff, and personal development. I think it's better to aim for lots of things, across a broad range of goals, than to focus in on just one area. Some resolutions should be enjoyable, or useful, makes your life like a game, see? Thus sayeth the Performing Pedagogue.
+Ben Thomas - Thanks for the comments.

Whilst what you say has a lot of merit taken in seclusion, motivation has never been much of an issue for me. If I decide to do something, I generally do it. I lost the weight before. I'll do it again. My problem last time wasn't motivating myself to do it, it was doing what was necessary to keep it all off at the end of last year. That said, I put the weight back on quite willfully, perhaps stupidly, but I like to enjoy my festive period, especially as this is the last year I will likely be able to enjoy scoffing myself silly quite as much as I just did. That said, I'm not overweight (according to my iPhone -- and it knows, right?), I'm just stacking the beef back on. Time to fix that, and setting a yearly target to lose just over two-stone accompanied by an increase in exercise seems about right to me, especially given I last lost two stone in about four months in the latter months of last year (not that anyone really noticed, such is the way I carry weight). So, where it all may look impossible from the outside, to me it all looks quite achievable (the weight-loss, that is).

I've created this list for one reason: to codify what I want to do, and present myself the challenge of tackling that over the year. Yes, it may not look complementary, but I will give it my best shot, and I think it can be done. Refer to my previous comments about aiming for the stars, and so on. I can see where you are coming from, though; but your view of how much I game (in terms of video games) is skewed, I think. I put much, much more time into roleplaying, for example, and raising my kids. Gaming is more an added hobby, as much as that may seem unbelievable to your eyes.
+Lindsay Law Makes it more like a game, y'see. Thus sayeth the Shimmering Hilarity.
Good list! I've also pledged to learn to drive, although I more mean "be confident in charge of a motor vehicle", which I think is different.

I need to tone up, too, but my running plans are less ambitious; my best friend's getting married in Fiji in July, so I want to be able to run 5k by then. I'm going to start on the Couch to 5k program ( when I get back to E'burg.
Thanks, +Cat Tobin; glad you like the list. Do you have a list of your resolutions anywhere? +Lindsay Law has decided she wants to do a list as well, as these things are often more successful when you have support from others, and having both of us egging each other on will hopefully spur us on.

And that Couch-to-5K program looks pretty doable! Perhaps I should have aimed at 5K, not 5 miles? There seems to be a lot of 5K fun runs and similar, but no 5-mile equivalents, so that would marry up well. I could probably do that program up and down the cycle-paths off Leith, although it's a tad dark (and bloody cold) just now. Regardless, good stuff! :D Thanks.

And Fiji sounds too awesome. Jealous. Much like you, when I was Spain-bound for a wedding, I lost some weight beforehand. Well worth it. :)
I found this a very inspirational, and challenging, post, Andrew. Best of luck with it!
+Brian Lavelle - Thanks, Brian. I think I'll need every once of luck I can muster for some parts. I mean, doing the laundry every day? Madness!
That is madness. No question. You'll need every ounce of sanity and resolve to beat that one; the rest seem straightforward in comparison!
Glad I have someone that sees the truth of it.
Ahh!! but being madness will have no effect on you, as you have been Mad for many a year. So this being Madness will only be of help to you and will make it easier. So you will have no problem at all in cpmpleting all 12.
+Norman Robinson - Thanks very much for the link. I'll check that out properly once the kids are back to school. Every little thing like this helps, I think.
+Alan Law - You think I'll have no problems doing the laundry every day? You do know me, right? ;)
Nice list. Good luck with it. It has 11 more resolutions than mine. :-\
Thanks, Phil. It just means I have eleven more chances to keep a resolution that you. Safety in numbers. :)
I just found this - - and I've signed up for it. Not sure if it's the kind of programming you're looking for, but I'm going to give it a go because it's structured and lesson-oriented and they send me a lesson so I can't forget to do it.

(I'm still working on my complete list of resolutions; my New Year doesn't usually start until after Warpcon as I always write a game or two for them and am too busy to start making big changes).
+Cat Tobin - That looks absolutely perfect as a starter. I've signed up. Looks like we'll be coding buddies for the year. I think I may make a small amendment to my resolutions to make this fit, as it's exactly the kind of thing to get me headed in the right direction, even if it's not quite what my initial resolution suggests.

Also, looking forward to seeing what you resolve. +Lindsay Law has her list up over here if you're looking for some extra ideas.
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