Projects Status Update – April 2017

I unfortunately procrastinated the March status update so much that it has melded into the April update. Over the past 2 months I’ve been working on 4 of my 10 Projects for 2017. Those 4 are: Paper Towers, Spanish, Krav Maga, and learning the Cello. My current core focus is learning the Cello and I’m spending 3 – 4 hours a week on the rest.

Paper Towers (Now Tower Storm again)

Firstly I decided to stick with the name Tower Storm instead of re-branding this project as Paper Towers. I’m proud to say that Tower Storm is finally Open Source!. I spent around 30 hours in the last 2 months removing all copyrighted graphics and sounds from the game, and cleaning up the code so it’s easy for anyone to run and make modifications. I finally pulled the trigger a few hours ago and put it up on Github. I also did my first open source development stream, if you’re interested in seeing how I develop Tower Storm, how to mod it yourself, and my thoughts on programming in general you can follow me on Twitch.


As of the 21st of April I was up to a 25 day streak on Duolingo doing at least 30 minutes of spanish a day (50xp per day). Unfortunately I lost that streak, but I will be continually learning Spanish on Duolingo over the next year. Alongside that I’ve been watching movies, LoL games and random Youtube videos in Spanish. I’ve also switched my PC and Phone to use Spanish as their default language. Every little bit of learning helps.

Krav Maga

I signed up for Krav Maga 2 weeks ago and so far have done 6 classes. I’ll probably continue this 3 times a week schedule. So far we’ve practiced basic punching, hammer fist, kicking, roundhouse kicks, getting out of chokes, and defending yourself when you’re on the ground. I’m really enjoying it so far, it’s useful, it’s a ton of fun fighting as hard as you can (into pads) and it’s a great workout. I hadn’t been punched in maybe 15 years and it’s an eye opening experience, and made me realize I have to toughen up a lot if I want to survive a real life fight.


To celebrate the open sourcing of Tower Storm and the down-winding of that project I went out and hired a Cello for 3 months. I’ve only had it a week now and haven’t had lessons yet. I bought a beginners book and have been teaching myself how to play with that and YouTube tutorials. I’m excited to report that I can already play the beginning of the Rains Of Castamere song! Albeit with a lot of squeaks and quite slowly. I can’t wait to learn more.

So that’s it. I’ll be continuing to focus on these 4 activities until at least the end of May whereupon I may start on another depending on my progress and time available.


One project every month

I constantly have ideas of software I want to build, skills I want to learn, sites I want to create. I’ve been writing these ideas into Evernote since 2009. The problem is I often start working on an idea but give up a week or two later when something else comes along. Life is too short for that, so now I’m going to get focused.

A few months ago I started organizing all these ideas on a Trello board to figure out how I want to spend the next 5 years of my life.

I had 125 ideas in total, which I’ve whittled down to my 10 favourite. This year I’ll be spending 1-2 months building a prototype or learning the basics of each. Then at the end of the year I should know what I want to spend a few years focusing 100% of my energy on.

My top 10 ideas for 2017 are:

Paper Towers

This is the open source version of Tower Storm. My original vision for Tower Storm is a Tower Defense game with as much depth as DOTA. Unfortunately this scope is far too huge for an indie company. However it has one major strength: It’s a web game that doesn’t require compiling and is configured through JSON scripts. So if I open source it others can build their own TD games using this engine / framework. They can make maps, minions, towers, game modes and more and share them around and help each other, and it can turn into something much bigger and more fun than I could produce by myself. I’d love to see what the community creates once this is released.

Learn Spanish

I’m currently at a level where I can hold a basic conversation. I want to get to a level where I can start thinking in Spanish and be able to hold ongoing conversation consisting of more than introductions and small talk.

Krav Maga

This is mostly about self defense, and hopefully it’ll be a lot of fun too. My first lesson is this Monday.

Study Time

Think Popcorn Time for MOOC’s. Software where you can learn anything you desire and it’s completely peer to peer and streamed via torrents. This way knowledge and lessons can live on forever even when MOOC sites take down their courses or shut down.

Learn the Cello

I’ve learnt the Clarinet and Tenor Sax, but have yet to figure out a stringed instrument. I love the sound of a Cello and my goal is to play the Rains Of Castamere.

Educational Honesty

I’ve been reading Amusing ourselves to death, it was written in 1985 and is absolutely on point with how woefully unintelligent public discourse has become on topics that we should be taking seriously. I want to build a site focused on educating, not influencing. A place where intelligent debate is praised, and all opinions are considered. Twitter, Meme’s and the comment sections on most websites are what I consider “Information junk food”. We had a crisis with actual Junk food in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, but if you look around recently you’ll notice these trends are reversing, people are now eating healthier and taking better care of their bodies. We must now do the same with our brains. I believe with good information we can do just that and live healthier mental lives, just like how we fought back against real junk food.

Reverse giving charity

It’s well known in psychology that if you get given a gift you feel more obliged to give back in return, this is why food samples and waiters giving mints at the end of a meal work so well. I’d like to try a charity built around this idea. Imagine giving people free coffee from countries in Africa or South America, and included with that is information about the country it came from, the issues it faces, and how you can help fix those issues, via donations or spreading the word. I think you’d have much more success garnering support in this way than the usual begging on the street, and so want to try it out. I may join an existing charity or start my own (depending on difficulty).

Build a Farmbot

The Farmbot is one of the coolest pieces of technology I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s completely open source! I’d like to try building one of these from scratch and helping refine their wiki with information on where to source parts and fixing bugs and issues with the documentation or software. Imagine if we could get Farmbot cheap enough and reliable enough that anyone can homestead and get the basic food they need to live completely free.

Web Basic

I recently read an article on how q-basic is still the best beginners programming language, and I have to agree. Q-Basic was the language I started with when I was 11 and it makes far more sense to non-coders than most other languages. But installing q-basic, compiling, and sharing programs is not so beginner friendly. So why not bring Q-Basic to the web. Imagine if you could create a new Cloud9 project and just start coding in Q-Basic, hit run, and the program is compiled to Javascript and rendered using Canvas. Kids could start learning and coding in seconds and send their projects to friends minutes later (just send them the preview link!). This social feedback loop could bring so much joy to kids and lowering that barrier to entry could entice many new kids to learn coding that had never considered it before.

Mass Reforestation

We’ve had mass deforestation for 100 years now and the effects have been devastating. Now we need to reverse this process, but how? With drones of course! Imagine if we could create a drone that surveys a piece of land, uses AI to figures out the perfect combination and density of trees and fauna to re-invigorate that land, and then goes ahead and does it all by itself. The technology is available now, we just need someone to compile the knowledge build the software. The mass reforestation site will share ideas and technology on the latest efforts to reforest the world so that everyone can take part. Eventually with enough people and drones out there we’ll be able to accomplish mass reforestation.

What about the other 115 ideas?

I still really want to see them happen, I’m just not particularly excited about doing them myself. So I’m going to share them here on this blog, please steal them as I post them and help make the world a better place 🙂