Game Design Office, Still an Office

Turns out that working in a game development studio is pretty much your average 9-5…with games. Not games during work, mind you. That would be seriously cutting down on productivity time. No, we just do stuff to do with games, and it doesn’t really seem to affect the way business is done all that much. A lot of people here are younger, which makes sense…and I guess I’m just doing grunt work. Still, I thought the vibe of one of Melbourne’s very few game design studio offices would be a little bit more energized.

Guess I just have to work my way to the top and change all that, because hoo boy, I’ve been planning this since I was five years old and my parents got me a Mega Pluto System. I wonder if there are businesses that offer office fitout near Sydney that would be able to take something as wacky as what’s in my head and make it a reality? I bet most office designers get calls for a lot of the same stuff, not that they necessarily WANT to be doing the same thing over and over again. “Yeah, could you make it open plan? White walls are fine. Some sort of neutral carpet; light blue, maybe. No, dark blue, definitely. And maybe have a few slightly alternative lights hanging from the ceiling that no one will notice after the first week. Thanks.”

Whereas if I was in control here, I’d make this a REAL video game office. Like, consoles on pedestals to show how far we’ve come. Screens everywhere with games just active, so anyone can jam on them and get their working mojo back. And the wall graphics…well, there would be wall graphics. That, and so much more. I bet if I found an office renovations and fitout company right here in the middle of Sydney and asked them for that, they’d appreciate the unique challenge. That’s what all offices should be anyway: representative of their type of business. And fun. Because games are fun.


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Winter Is Coming

Barb and I went camping in the mountains on the weekend – the first time we’ve been all year. Personally, I love being outdoors at this time of year, when the cold weather is just starting to creep in. Barb’s a bit more bothered, but we sorted her out with a pocket hand-warming device and some huge hand-knitted socks courtesy of my mother.

Coming back into Melbourne, though, got me thinking about the oncoming winter months – specifically, those mornings that make you want to put your day clothes on over your pyjamas to avoid the chill. Here in the city, that cold factor isn’t even mitigated by breathtaking views of frosty alpine slopes.

That line of thought brought me to the vague recollection that we’re due for a heater service. Melbourne winters are much easier to tolerate with a working heater of some description. Ideally, I’d love to have a fireplace, but we’re still a ways off from being able to install one, so for the moment it’s gas.

It’s not like I feel a need to have the heating on constantly – there are plenty of other ways to keep warm, as we’re currently attempting to teach the kids. Not that teenagers are much interested in rugging up in grandma’s blankets when it’s so easy to hit a switch on the wall. That’s a benefit of a wood-burning fireplace, actually: it would make them work a bit harder for their heat, and maybe consider their energy consumption in a bit more depth. 

But at the end of the day, ducted gas heating close to Melbourne in winter is something I really appreciate having access to. I don’t plan to leave it to chance as to whether our system’s in good working order, like I did last year. That was a mistake, let me tell you. When it finally conked out, it just so happened to be the coldest day of the year.

Blankets and bottomless cups of hot lemon tea are so important for wintertime comfort, but it’s nice to have a heating system to fall back on.

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How Do You Revive an Office Culture?

Got to say, I’m not really impressed by Polo: A Space Conflicts Tale. I get that everyone wanted a definitive origin story for Dan Polo, the galaxy’s most notorious space polo player (space polo is like regular polo, except they use massive spaceships instead of horses, and they wield gigantic laser bats to smack planets around). And it’s nice seeing how Dan got his name (because he plays polo) and how he meets all of his friends, but the whole thing just felt generic.

Generic is something I don’t really need any more of in my life, and if you saw my office, you’d understand. The place looks like the start of some 80s movie about a guy who feels trapped in mediocrity. Pretty sure the last time the boss got on the phone to find the best office designers Melbourne companies can trust, it was the seventies. Back then everything was covered in a haze of smoke and you could make it all as drab and lifeless as possible. Now we live in the enlightened era where smoking in an office building is utterly unthinkable, so…drab, lifeless office for all to see!

Even if there was some kind of office fitout whirlwind over the weekend and I came in to find that the walls were purple and all the cubicles and spinning chairs had been replaced by open-plan beanbags, I’m not convinced that the people here would fit the space. They’re all a little bit older than I am, a lot more world-weary, and no one even gets my pop culture references. I’m not even going to bother asking if anyone has seen Polo, because I know none of them have. And I guess asking a bunch of generic people if they’ve seen a generic movie is a recipe for boredom anyway.

I could be wrong, though. Someone could win a competition, getting us the best office designers operating in Melbourne to come and glam up the place, thus causing everyone to suddenly wake up and realise that life is beautiful and what-not. But I have my doubts.


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All Elbows and Knees

So… I have golfer’s elbow, apparently. At least, my physio suspects as much. It’s bizarre because I’ve never played golf in my life. If anything, I should have tennis elbow, given that I play tennis on the regular. But it seems that this affliction is not limited to golfers.

It’s actually called medial epicondylitis, if you want to be technical (or less sport-specific) about it. From what I can tell, it basically just means inflammation on the inside of the elbow, where the forearm tendon attaches to a bony thing called the medial epicondyle. It’s kind of like tennis elbow but flipped around to the other side of your arm. Fun galore.

One of my tennis buddies has been telling me for ages that I should stop clenching my fingers when I grip the racquet, but I keep writing her remarks off as pedantry. Oops! I’m going to have to lay off the tennis for a bit, so I’ll have plenty of time to revise the formal aspects of racquet grip between appointments for my shoulder pain with my myotherapist. Cheltenham area locals: who’s your go-to? I’m getting tired of heading way out west to see my old faithful; it’s time to find a clinic in this neck of the woods to look after what ails me.

My brother is always going on about his mate, a professional footballer, being magically cured of injuries by his sports physio. Sandringham is a tiny bit out of my way, but I could probably manage it if the results are really that good. I mean, I know there’s no magic cure for sports injuries, but a good physical therapist can go a long way towards making it seem that way.

On another note, I sometimes think you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when it comes to physical exercise. Either you’ve got a sore back from being too sedentary, or you find yourself with golfer’s elbow from playing tennis. Where’s the middle ground? Maybe it’s swimming.

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Cars for a New, More Elegant Age

Now that we’ve all received the wonderful news that the moon will soon be terraformed, we should really start thinking about the various things we’re going to be needing when can walk tat verdant surface. Oh, there’s still a bit of holdout from the grump sorts who can’t accept that we’re going to be confined to domes for the rest of our existence, but they are just terribly short-sighted. How can we bear to gaze out at the lunar surface, gorgeous as it is, and NOT be able to walk upon it, except in bulky suits? This was always meant to be.

Of course, my mechanical skills were vital before when servicing the moon buggies, but I’ll be even more vital when it comes to building actual roads, and the fantastic future cars that will be driving upon them. As everyone should already know, I did my work experience at an auto mechanic. Ringwood was a different place fifteen years ago. My work experience lasted a whole four-and-a-half days. In that short week- shorter than usual because we finished early on Friday- I absorbed everything I could, and I’ve re-visited all of that information multiple times over the years. When Brother Whitley needed help replacing his tires, who stepped up? It was me! When Sister Alberta was hearing some strange noises in her Corolla, who recommended that she should take it into the mechanic, so that they could have a good look at it and sort out the problem! Multiple people, me included!

To design and service the moon cars, driving upon those moon roads…surely, my destiny is this. I’ve been working an office job for ten years, always dreaming of tire replacement, brake servicing and the occasional RACV insepction. Ringwood might have been a good place before me, but now my future is among the stars, the master of lunar travel. Surely, this is a fuller and richer destiny than any upon the Earth!


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Aluminium – a great addition to any big day

No wedding is complete without gifts that prepare you for any situation. If you are struggling to think of what to put on your registry, or your spouse has expressed interest in ute-related items, be sure to look for high quality aluminium accessories. It may seem like strange suggestion but there are many advantages to taking the path less travelled with an unusual gift.

Aluminium, long known to be strong, lightweight, affordable and durable, is a great gift for any new family, and the perfect wedding gift for a happy couple. Aluminium is often used, along with tin, as the symbol for the 90th wedding anniversary. You and your partner can get a head start on these milestone gifts and buy the best aluminium toolboxes Melbourne has to offer. There is no end to the variety that you can get, nor the impressive range available for your partner and you in preparation for your wedding. Finding the right toolbox is more of an art than a science, though there is science to help you. One of the big factors to consider when looking at different toolboxes, is the durability and sturdiness of the material itself. If it’s aluminum we’re talking about it’ll last you decades. While you’re at it, why not consider upgrading the ute with a nice new flatbed tray.

Who doesn’t want to set off into the sunset with a beautiful, high quality ute, decked out in the finest aluminium trays money can buy? Everyone wants that. You can ensure that happens with a look into high quality aluminium accessories, either online or in person. It’s the gift that keeps on giving and will stand the test of time, even if the marriage doesn’t!

Planned a honeymoon travelling the outback of Australia? You’re definitely going to need a ute with plenty of space to store your food, water, and gas. There is nothing more romantic than laying on a aluminium ute tray, looking up at the countless stars only visible in the outback of Australia.

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Proud Parents of Podiatrist

Barb and I are feeling very proud of our son! Having completed a podiatry degree, Toby has now officially found work at a clinic offering various manual therapies, including physiotherapy, osteopathy, and a few other modalities with names I can’t pronounce. To be honest, I’m not 100% on what the difference is between most of these things – but then, we’re both history professors.

Anyway, the clinic is sending him to a complete a trigger point dry needling course. Sydney is such a fantastic place to holiday and I’m sure he’ll get a few days to explore the beautiful countryside. Now, don’t ask me to explain what that is, although Toby tells us that it’s a treatment technique for releasing tight muscles. He’s been throwing around terms like ‘neuromyofascial dysfunction’ and ‘chronic orthopedic population’, which might as well be in another language as far as I’m concerned.

Barb keeps telling me that it’s not that hard to understand, and that I’m just afraid of the big words. But then, she’s always been faster on the uptake than me when it comes to technical things like this. Still, I’m amazed that people can learn a technique like this over one weekend.

Apparently, though, these weekend dry needling courses, in Australia at least, are designed for graduates of manual therapy degree courses – they’re not available for just anyone to sign up for. So it’s not like people are learning the whole body of knowledge around it in one weekend; they’ve already got a working understanding of the field it’s embedded in.

More than anything, I’m amazed that our baby boy is grown-up clinician, with his own professional indemnity insurance and all. Don’t get me started on the fact that he’s going to be qualified to insert fine filaments of metal into people’s muscles! They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Barb says she might give the dry needling a go, seeing as nothing else seems to be working on her shoulder pain. As for me, I’m afraid of needles – even more than I am of big words – so I’ll give it a miss. But I couldn’t be prouder!

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The Wonderful Sounds of the Docklands

I might have said that places of artistic wonder give me the necessary inspiration for my tunes, but recently I’ve been trying out some new locations, and wow…you can be inspired by so many things!

I found a nice little spot just outside my local car mechanic, and that seemed to work pretty well for a while. The guys didn’t know I was there, and I realised that different cars vary in their melodic engine hums. That was how I came up with my 26-part symphonic poem, entitled ‘MMM’.

It was mostly just that sounds, but there was also an ‘urRURR’ in there at one point. I think that was coming from the old Ford with the V8 engine. And then the people in the garage found me and asked me to leave, so now I’m here at the docks!

Boats and stainless steel marine welding make such a different sound to cars, and it just tickles my ears. It’s less of a low, undulating hum, and more of a loud, obnoxious grinding from all the welding noises. Obviously when we’re talking marine welding, that’s a LOT of welding, sometimes underwater. I had to add a whole extra two verses to ‘Song of the Ocean Marine Welding People of Melbourne Bay in the year of Great Celebration’, because I could see some people preparing themselves for underwater welding and I had no idea what that sounds like. I speculated, fortunately…although making the noise of flaming bubbles with your mouth is NOT easy. That’s why I’m an auteur. I’m going to try and purchase an underwater housing for my audio equipment so I can lower them into the great blue beyond.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll totally luck out and see someone installing a snapper rack, or fitting a boat  for rod holders, or maybe installing a new motor, OH that would be AMAZING. A symphony for the ears, the mind and my banjo!


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Solar Confusion

I’ve been looking into the whole deal of installing solar energy systems in commercial buildings and, dang it, it’s pretty confusing. Not the question of whether it’s a good idea; that’s a clear yes. What I mean is, it’s confusing in terms of how to go about it in the most efficient way.

One logistical question I have about installing solar in Melbourne is this: what happens in the middle of winter? Is a couple of hours of sunlight each day enough to power a large building that uses electricity in a fairly heavy duty way? You see, I’m looking into this on behalf of my dad, who claims he wants to move the whole company towards running on renewable energy but has gaps in his schedule to research it for the next four months.

One obvious answer is that installing a solar system doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire load of electricity must come from the system. I suspect that dad feels that the system would be pointless if the grid still had to be in effect for providing some of the building’s power. I don’t see it that way, though. I mean, of course it would be ideal if the entire load of energy could be harnessed from rooftop solar, but in practice that might have to be the goal of a work in progress.

From what I understand, there are a few ways of moving closer to that goal. For starters, the company could take down their overall energy consumption by installing commercial LED lighting. Dad could also look into an AC-connected commercial energy storage system. Melbourne gets an abundance of sun in summer, right? If I’ve got this right, any excess energy can be stored in a battery for later use. The other option is to feed the excess into the grid, get paid the feed-in tariff, and then buy the energy from the grid during solar down-times, knowing that at least some of it is still coming from solar.

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LED, VEEC, ABC, etc.

Gah, so many acronyms. VEEC, ESC, AC, CFL, LED…  what does it all mean? In case you’re wondering what I’m on about, I’m researching what’s involved in improving the energy rating of a commercial building here in Victoria. There’s a lot to take in, and these acronyms aren’t making it any easier!

Let’s start with LED – I have a little bit of familiarity with that term, at least. My camping lantern runs on LEDs, as does my sister’s $600 hula hoop. Well, apparently, light emitting diodes represent a relatively efficient approach to lighting buildings, compared to what’s in incandescent, halogen and fluorescent light bulbs. This new technology also represent, it seems, pretty significant savings on energy bills. Commercial LED lighting suppliers in Melbourne, please step forward. Let’s talk.

What we actually need here at the workshop is new tube lighting – I’m over the constant flickering. So now I’m wondering if there’s such thing as LED tube lighting. I mean, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be the case – LED seems to be the way of the future, and tube-style lights surely can’t be going anywhere.

Okay, one acronym down. What else is on the agenda? Let’s talk how to install commercial solar – Melbourne what’s the story with that? It’s got to be better than the one around standard grid electricity, at any rate. Straight up, the workshop is probably going to go down the toilet in the next couple of years if we can’t do something about these insane energy prices, and fast. A rooftop photovoltaic rig seems like the obvious answer, but we really need it to be subsidised somehow, and I can’t make head or tail of what’s up with that.

I know that there are incentives out there from the state and federal governments, and even councils, to businesses to upgrade to solar and LED technology. Who wants to talk me through Environmental Upgrade Agreements and Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates? No acronyms, please!

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