Explaining my recent absence

The clock is ticking towards midnight once more. You find me sitting in the dark of the junk room once more. Perhaps I should stop calling it the “junk room”, and call it “the office” – although saying that, the only clear wall is now covered with an aviation sector map of the southern United Kingdom.

Don’t ask.

Actually, perhaps I should tell you what it’s all about. It will explain the absence of new posts from me just recently.

You know how sometimes you pull a loose thread, and it ends up unravelling an entire piece of clothing? That’s busy happening to the idiot escapade I’ve been engaging in since the pandemic.

If you’re not aware, during the pandemic my Dad gave me his old computer – a computer capable of playing video games on – something I had not had for perhaps twenty years. The first thing I bought was a flight simulator – so I could join in with the group my Dad had been meeting up with online for the last decade or so. It kept me out of mischief, and provided a great excuse to spend time with my Dad.

Fast forward a couple of years, and while sharing my idiot exploits in pretend aircraft, I’ve somehow grown a YouTube channel with a lot of subscribers. Enough that the channel is monetised, which provides an added incentive to keep at it.

The problem with churning out content on the internet is you eventually run out of things to share (this blog is a great example of that, I suppose). Thankfully aviation is kind of like an onion – as you pull back one layer, another is exposed below. That’s kind of what’s been going on with the videos pretending to fly planes on the computer.

At some point I thought “wouldn’t it be good if I took a look at what real pilots actually do”, rather than winging it all the time. And that’s how a huge parcel arrived in the house last week – filled with the materials a student pilot might typically acquire in their journey towards a private pilot’s licence.

So I’ve started studying, and recording videos replicating “real world” exercises. You know when you’re near an airfield, and you see a little Cessna go pottering past overhead, with an all-knowing instructor perhaps guiding a nervous student around the local circuit? I’ve been doing that – and recording it – and sharing it.

You know what? It’s exhausting. In the same way that doing mathematics is exhausting.

Playing a video game is one thing – but trying to control a simulated aircraft in authentically simulated weather, and operating it in a manner agreeable with wisened all-knowing certified flight instructors is something else entirely different. And yes, real-world instructors have been watching my exploits, and wading in with helpful (read: chastening, dispiriting, but also helpful) critiques.

So yes. That’s what I’ve been doing.

It started as a tactic to get more views on YouTube, but had rapidly become a huge slippery slope. A slippery slope that scratches a mental itch. I asked for math books for Christmas a few years ago – I suppose this is in the same wheelhouse as that kind of mental idiocy.


It’s late. I should probably be in bed already. We both know I’m going to end up scrolling the internet until 1am, don’t we.

If you’re curious about the YouTube channel, click here 🙂



Somebody take the keyboard away from me – I obviously cannot be trusted. While taking a break from research and development on a work project this afternoon I lifted my personal blog in the air, threw it into what can only be described as a cloud-powered infinite improbability drive, and have rather miraculously ended up with a new blog.

Perhaps the term “miraculously” is a little disingenuous. This afternoon’s escapade was made possible only by standing on the shoulders of far more industrious developers that did exactly what developers tend to do – when faced with building something, they don’t just build something – they build the thing that builds the something.

Of course if you’re reading this at WordPress or Tumblr, you’re only seeing a pale imitation of the results of my idiocy. Your words were brought to you by a daemon in the cloud called “Zapier” that watches what I’m up to all day.


The work day has just finished (hence having time to pollute the internet with these words), and my cooking, washing up, and tidying up services are probably required elsewhere in the house.

I promise to return to less tinker-filled programming tomorrow.


Constructing a Virtual Amiga

Too much work and not enough play makes Jack a dull boy – or at least, that’s what the pages from the typewriter in The Shining had written on them. It tends to be true of me too. Let’s hope I don’t go insane while writing a novel in a deserted hotel.

I suppose you could argue I’ve been constructing a deserted hotel in more ways than one though – firstly through this re-imagining of my blog, and secondly through a project I’ve been tinkering with for the last several nights.

I’ve had this small computer called a “Raspberry Pi” knocking around the house for the last several years. It’s as powerful as a PC was a decade ago, but costs a hundred times less. Here’s the thing – the Raspberry Pi can run Linux – and if you can run Linux, you can pretty much run anything. And anything includes an Amiga emulator.

Here’s where we depart on a thirty second history lesson.

In the mid 1980s a computer was invented called the “Amiga”. It was horrendously expensive, and was filled with custom chips that allowed it to do things that were unheard of at the time. If you’ve ever seen “The Chart Show” or “Max Headroom”, you’ve seen the Amiga in action. It was decades ahead of the curve, and perhaps failed for that very reason. Oh, it might have had something to do with being acquired by Commodore too – perhaps one of the most dysfunctional organisations in modern history.


Over the last couple of evenings I have re-constructed a virtual Amiga in the study at home – or rather, configured the Raspberry Pi to pretend to be an Amiga. Suddenly I benefit from a world of long forgotten software, curated by a somewhat underground community filled with nostalgia, expertise, and endless know-how.

Why, you might ask? Why bother?


I have essentially constructed a pre-internet computer with a word processor that proves invaluable for distraction free writing. I’m writing this on it. The clever bit is that the “other” computer can see it – so writing can be transferred to and from it.

Of course none of this improves my writing, or the subjects I might write about – you might even argue it’s detrimental in some ways, given that I’ve been tinkering rather than writing for the last several days. Let’s see how the coming days unfold.