Saturday, 5 October 2013

Mapping Rediscover Mitcham 2

Mitcham Town Center is about to undergo a huge redevelopment, which has been rather controversial.

Given that the second survey had been open to anyone from anywhere, I wondered where the responses had come from.  I was also aware of a number of issues with streets not getting the second consultation delivered within the timescales that where promised, and wondered if the response data would show up any other areas where a lack of responses might show that there where issues with deliveries.

I therefore put in a Freedom of Information request via What Do They Know, which can be found here.  I've taken the postcodes, and converted them to latitudes and longitudes using this website.

I then input the data into Google's Spreadsheet mapper, fiddled with it a little, and created this map showing where responses came from. I'm not sure it answers my original question, but it's still quite an interesting exercise, all using free tools that are floating around the web.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Dunwich Dynamo 2013

This was my second DD, this time with my father-in-law and brother-in-law.

Not a bad ride all in all, we left about 8:30, and got to the beach at about 8:30.

I had a nice chat to a couple of people in the queue to pick up coach tickets.  Doctor Cake modelling the rather swish LFGSS ladies jersey (which looks stunning).

Chatted to a few people on the road, had a nice chat with Chung, said hi to JAH Tim. Plenty of LFGSS sharkpits and caps on the road, and got DaS'd a couple of times, to which I think I gave an appropriate response.

Crashed at one point, when someone overtook me, and cut back in (I'm 99% certain they left me loads of room) and I, being a bit dozy, flicked myself left into a gutter created by the road camber and curb, filled with dust, cut speed, sensed that it was going to end badly, unclipped, and tried to go up a dropped curb, and flicked myself over the bars.  Reportedly I did a fantastic tumble, ending up sitting up, with grazes on my left elbow, and both knees, a hole in my new shorts and my lights in bits.  Found all of the rear one, which went back together fine, but the front had to be sticky plastered back together.

Following that it all turned into a bit of a haze.  I recall the food stop well enough, no issues finding it this year, but we got there after most of the snacky bits had gone, so grabbed a coffee, ate some sausage rolls, filled water (Said hi to Skydancer) and headed back out.  Most of the ride was me getting ahead of the other two, waiting for them, then disappearing off again.

I paused at the bottom of the big hill, waiting to gather people so that I could shoot down to the bike shop to get new bar ends (since mine had come out in the crash) and missed my father-in-law, but found my brother-in-law, who thought his dad was behind him.  He waited whilst I shot off and got the bike fixed up, When I got back to him, he'd discovered that we were about 10 miles behind.  A lovely bit of faster paced riding got us caught up at the first of the breakfast tents that where popping up, but we pushed through past the sausage stop to the Yurt with the bacon and drinks.  We grabbed a sandwich, peered at the Yurt, decided not to risk going into it (we weren't sure we'd be able to carry on if we did), filled our water bottles and headed out again.

The last few miles felt like they went on forever. The distances seemed much greater than I recalled from last year, but the final descent was lovely, helped I suspect by the fact that we managed to get ahead of a coach that was busy getting stuck trying to get past cars that where leaving, meaning that there wasn't much in the way of moving things other than bikes and people.

We locked the bikes up on the beach (near to tricitybendix and companion in their sleeping bags) before trundling back to the Cafe, where we managed to get an inside seat, and devour breakfast, before getting slightly changed, and joining the coach queue.  Our bikes went on the 11:00 lorry, but we managed to get onto the 10:30 coach, deciding that sitting in London in the sun was preferable to sitting on the beach in the wet.

Riding home along CS7 on a Sunday was by far the worst bit of the ride.  Most of it becomes a car park out of peak hours, so was only any use to us for directions. I'm glad that we chose to get get the train across London on the way out, and sad that it was suspended on our way back.

Despite swearing off of doing it for the first couple of days afterwards, I've already decided that I'll be back again next year.  I might try and persuade the family to camp somewhere near the end of the ride, so that we can just tootle along after we've had out beach breakfasts and crash, rather than getting the coach back. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Product Reviews

I'm currently waiting for the new SimCity game to be released in the UK, whilst I do so, I've been reading a number of forums for the game, and watching the first reviews rolling in from the States and other places that the game has launched.

As with many other games that have have gone down the have-to-be-online-to-play route (mostly MMOs, but notably Diablo 3 too) there have been issues with the servers at launch. Despite Maxis and EA running beta tests to try and ensure that there were no problems, inevitably there were.

This has lead to, in the age of instant feedback, to an interesting effect. The reviews for these games have hugely suffered.

Taking Diablo 3, it has an rating of 2.7 stars from 476 reviews (100 @ 5*, 75 @ 4*, 55 @ 3*, 64 @ 2* and 164 @ 1*). Looking at the numbers here, the number of 1* reviews seems hugely out of proportion to the others. Its Metacritic scores are also interesting. Pro critics scored the game at 88/100, but the public scores only give it 3.8/10 (from 7943 ratings).

Looking at SimCity, which has only been out for 3 days, the reviews are strikingly similar. currently has an average rating of 1.4 stars from 278 reviews (9 @ 5*, 10 @ 4*, 7 @ 3*, 18 @ 2* and 234 @ 1*). Once again the number of 1* reviews seems well out of proportion. Its Metacritic scores are similar to those from Diablo 3 - pro critics giving the game 90/100, but the public score being 2.6/10 (from 850 ratings).

Why is this happening? I'm fairly sure that in both of these cases, the reviewers are punishing the company involved for taking a game that could previously be played without an internet connection, and forcing online play on people.  In addition to this, both games have had initial problems with server load that have prevented first day players from playing the game, adding to the discontent of the previous fans of the series, who have been used to being able to play offline. Another factor in the discontent may be that both games are continuations or reboots of an old series that's not been touched for some time (11 years for Diablo II, and 9.5 years for SimCity).

Whilst this skewing of review scores isn't great for the games production company, its also not helpful for Amazon, and to a lesser extent Metacritic. They want reviews that reflect the gameplay experience overall, not just the first week or so where the servers where under heavy load, and the game wasn't as it should be.

So, what's the answer to this issue? From Amazon's point of view, the labeling of users that they know have bought the game from them is helpful, but at the moment, you can't get a rating made up of just confirmed purchasers. This also can't be a solution for Metacritic, who don't have the sales details that Amazon do. The only solution that I can come up with for both sires is not to take reviews for a game for the first week or two. Those who are cross about the games forced online play and/or other issues, then have a chance to calm down about any issues that might have spoilt the launch, and thus will give a better set of reviews. Maybe Amazon could have an option so that you can restrict the reviews to only those who have bought the game via Amazon.

Any thoughts?