Work

I spent this week working on splitting up our giant postgres and mysql RDS instances, giving each app its own instance so that database upgrades are less of a major task: if everything uses one or two huge instances, then to upgrade the huge instances all the apps need to be made compatible and have downtime scheduled at the same time. It’s a lot of work. Having many, smaller, instances makes downtime and suchlike much easier to manage.

It’s been quite nice doing some infrastructure work, as I don’t get to play around with that much these days. The new infrastructure is now in place, but we still need to migrate the data. But that’s a task for next month.

I’m now off work for a week, back for a few days between Christmas and New Year, and then back to work properly from the 4th of January.

Books

This week I read:

  • A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke

    When we were little, we all read stories about the terrifying power of quicksand which, with one wrong step, would swallow up the unwary without a trace. And then we grew up, and found that quicksand isn’t actually a major day-to-day threat after all. This book takes quicksand, and asks “what if it were in space?

    A Fall of Moondust is set in a tourist cruise across the “sea of thirst” on the Moon: a fictitious “sea” of very fine rock particles, produced by moon rocks expanding and contracting in the heat of the sun every day for billions of years. With no atmosphere and very low gravity, this sand is more like a fluid, swallowing anything more dense beneath its perfectly flat surface. Apparently this was once an idea which serious scientists worried about, but thankfully we now know the moon to be pretty solid.

    It was a fun story of a crisis and subsequent daring rescue, only slightly marred by the old-fashioned assumption that in a crisis situation, the natural order of things is for the women to make drinks and serve refreshments while the men get on with solving the problem.

Gaming

This week the long-paused D&D campaign was properly cancelled, and the GM started a game of Whitehack. We had planned to do a West Marches style campaign, but we got fewer players than we’d hoped, so it’ll likely be a wilderness exploration focussed campaign where we have several PCs, and mix and match who goes on which adventure.

I’m looking forward to trying it out. Whitehack is firmly in the OSR sphere, but has a nice twist on the traditional class system: the classes themselves are quite broad and interesting, able to handle many different character archetypes, and a lot of the specificity you’d get in other class systems comes from noting down which “groups” you belong to.

For example, my character has the Strong (fighty) class, but is flavoured as a war god’s priest, and so he gets situational benefits from his “Warrior” and “Priest” groups. It’s a bit more flexible than many class-based systems, in which I’d have to chose between a warrior or a priest, and couldn’t have both.

Roleplaying Games