Why English is so Weird

In this very interesting essay John McWhorter takes a look on a few of the historic roots of the English language and how it was influenced over the years. I'm really fascinated by etymology and enjoy reading about the intricacies of a language. Just take a look at this example:

Especially noteworthy here are the culinary transformations: we kill a cow or a pig (English) to yield beef or pork(French). Why? Well, generally in Norman England, English-speaking labourers did the slaughtering for moneyed French speakers at table.

Fallout 4 Bugs

That's an interesting article and the idea seems to be valid: "Fallout 4 is Full of Bugs, But Fixing Them Could Ruin It"

Thankfully, Fallout 4 is no exception, with reviewers and players calling out its creaky engine, poor companion AI, sub-par animation, and many other glitches and bugs. Some see this as a failure of Bethesda to get with the program and embrace modern-day AAA polish. I don’t. Each time a new release is as rough and buggy as those that came before, it shows Bethesda is focused on the right things.

Playing Fallout 4

Tuesday I started playing Fallout 4. I tried my best to escape spoilers, opinions, complaints and especially gameplay or let's-play videos in the last few days to prevent any bias. What I expected was a game as fascinating as Fallout 3 with next-generation graphics, an enthralling story and an environment that begs to be discovered up to the last drawer. After the first few hours of gameplay I can say that the time waiting for the next big Fallout game was worth it. :}

The Pip-Boy companion app works surprisingly well with the game (on PC you have to confirm the Windows firewall pop-up that opens in the background - that took me some time :D ). I found it really useful to put the iPad below my computer monitor in order to see the live-updated world map – what an amazing feature!

Fallout 4 on PC with Pip-Boy companion iPad app

Fallout 4 on PC with Pip-Boy companion iPad app

Based on the mixed reviews on the internet I'm under the impression that some people expected something different or completely new, whereas Fallout 4 was built upon the successful elements of Fallout 3 (and Fallout New Vegas if you ask me), improved its mechanics and thoughtfully added new features that blend in seamlessly. This understanding is nicely reflected in a review headlined "War never changes, and that's just fine":

Fallout 4 builds upon the familiar to create something new and strange [...] But all of that — the world, the characters, even the bugs — are table setting at this point. What Fallout 4 adds to the series is heart. For the first time I really cared about what happened in the story, and found myself struggling with its moral dilemmas. I still spent dozens of hours tweaking my guns and killing feral ghouls, but this time, it felt like I was doing it for a reason. [...] But it's still very much Fallout — a game that doesn't really need to change all that much to trigger that familiar mix of dread and joy. A new location and a much better story were enough to pull me into this world, and 60 hours later I'm not done with it. There are settlements I still want to finish building, and crimes I still need to get to the bottom of. At some point I plan to ignore everything altogether, and just wander into the wilderness to see what I can find. Even if I'm alone, at least I'll have Billie Holiday's voice to keep me company.

Fallout 4 Immersion

I've found an interesting article about the immersion in Fallout 4. The author compares the immersion he experienced in Fallout 3 to the first impression and expectations of Fallout 4. For him Fallout 4 raises the bar and puts Fallout 3 retrospectively in a bad light:

"See, in comparison to Fallout 4’s Boston-set Commonwealth, Fallout 3’s wasted Washington no longer feels like the rich, expansive, living world I thought it was at the time. In comparison to Fallout 4, it now feels like a sterile, miniature lansdscape made of cardboard and stickytape.
Fallout 3’s scale, scope, and brilliant, surprising tonal variety make it an undeniably immersive cumulative experience, but the moment-to-moment stuff? It all feels a bit robotic, a mechanical means to a more enjoyable, holistic end. So far, Fallout 4 does not feel like that at all.
All the usual new-gen upgrades are present and correct of course; grander scale and increased graphical fidelity are to be expected. But what really hits me between the eyes with a big bolt of excitement is everything in between."


In the past I tried to post something at least once a month but as you noticed my frequency became way lower. In order to post more frequently I'll change the style a bit. Instead of longer posts I will also add shorter link-list-style posts to quickly show what's on my mind more often. So let's begin with a few short paragraphs about the gaming stuff that happened in the last months:


At the beginning of the year I patiently waited for the PC release of GTA V. The news about a few months of delay was not pleasing but with all these game releases in mind that had buggy versions and had to be patched immediately in order to be playable I hoped for a smooth start. Articles about improved graphics in comparison to the console version were also nice and made me even more patient. Good things take time! When it was finally released in April it was a really fun game to play. The size of its world was stunning and I enjoyed the whole story and tons of side quests. Now that the main story is finished I really need to take a closer look at the possibilities of GTA Online.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

This game has one of the most detailled and beautiful visuals I've ever seen in a videogame. Take a look at this 8K screenshot gallery to understand why I'm so thrilled.

Silent Hill

Silent Hill is one of my all-time favourite videogame franchise. It couldn't have been better: Videogame genius and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojimo teams up with horror movie director Guillermo del Toro to create the next Silent Hill game called "Silent Hills". Hideo had ambitious goals: "We are aiming for a game that will make you shit your pants. If you don’t want to continue playing through the game, so be it. We don’t care."With P.T. they even created a playable teaser (hence the abbreviation) that scared people to the bone and was an amazing PR campaign to advertise the production of Silent Hills. But unfortunately Hideo Kojima left Konami, the game was cancelled and only interpretations are left of what P.T. was about.

Some time after that I read about Allison Road which is heavily inspired by Silent Hills and P.T. Take a look at their prototype gameplay.

Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released in September but I have to admit that I haven't even played Ground Zeroes yet. But I'm sure that 1080p 60fps gameplay footage I already wrote about will blow you away!

Fallout 4

Okay, now we're talking! I'm posting this two days before the release of Fallout 4 and I'm really excited. Since I got to know Fallout 3 in 2008 I've played through it several times and sometimes wished I could forget all about it to re-experience another first playthrough. :D This makes the first playthrough of Fallout 4 even more exciting as it will be a whole new Fallout world to experience. I can't wait to dive into its atmosphere and discover all its tiny details! :}

The Secret Herb Garden

This week I read this interesting article about Joy Rose, who runs Bloombox:

"A relatively new business, Bloombox has been providing the inhabitants of Edinburgh with wholesome, organically grown salad, ethically sourced, designed and assembled by Joy herself and biked across the city’s undulating terrain in the wicker basket of her bike. In a little under a year, Joy has established a dedicated following of loyal customers and supporters clamoring for the next delicious bite of a much maligned meal."

The idea is pretty cool and gives you the opportunity to taste a great variety of organically grown salads and ingredients even if you don't have your own garden.

While looking for edible plants and different herbs Joy found The Secret Herb Garden, which is another interesting project. Take a look at their gallery and you'll be fascinated by the beautiful view their estate and its surroundings offer. In general it seems to be a café and shop that is run by a family who offer selfmade products such as coffee and especially tea from their own herbs. In addition to that there are also several events located at their greenhouse.

It's always fascinating for me to see such interesting projects created by people who care about nature, organically grown food and to take a look into their lifestyle. Gardening is also a hobby of mine. My girlfriend and I are used to take care of our own garden in our spare time. It's just a magical experience to see the plants that you seeded coming to life. Especially self sufficiency gardening is a cool aspect that we enjoy and have a lot of fun with. In the last few years we successfully grew tomatoes, potatoes, salad, kohlrabies, carrots, blueberries, strawberries and lemon balm. :)

This was 2014

After starting this kind of post in 2013, it may develop into a habit. :}

I was definitely right with my optimism in the old post that 2014 is going to be exciting. One of the most exciting things in 2014 was the presentation of my first research paper [1] at the PESOS workshop that took place at ICSE 2014 in Hyderabad, India. It was a great experience and I'm still very thankful for this opportunity! Together with an accepted paper at the EnCASE workshop [2] and one at the CNSM conference [3] I had the chance to contribute to three fascinating publications in 2014.

To gain visibility in the research community it is usually a good start to provide a central place presenting your activities. Following this idea I released my personal website FlorianWessling.de to give an overview of my research activities as well as personal projects.

Talking about personal projects brings me to the next topic: My word wrap plugin and line number ruler patch is making it slowly into the official Eclipse code base. Currently Holger Voormann and Lars Vogel are pushing the code review forward by contributing and triggering the right people to take a closer look at the code. ;) Thank you very much for your effort!

What is left to say? I'm looking forward to a great year 2015 with even more interesting projects, publications, ideas and experiences! The next big milestone I strive for is to finish my master thesis in the next few months and try to publish some of the insights as research paper. :eek3:

[1] C. C. Marquezan, F. Wessling, A. Metzger, K. Pohl, C. Woods, and K. Wallbom, “Towards Exploiting the Full Adaptation Potential of Cloud Applications,” Proceedings of the 6th ICSE 2014 Workshop on Principles of Engineering Service-Oriented and Cloud Systems (PESOS), Hyderabad, India, 2014, pp. 48–57.

[2] S. Gómez Sáez, V. Andrikopoulos, F. Wessling, and C. Cassales Marquezan, “Cloud Adaptation & Application (Re-)Distribution: Bridging the two Perspectives.”, Proceedings of the 1st EDOC 2014 Workshop on Engineering Cloud Applications & Services (EnCASE), 18th International IEEE Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Conference Workshops and Demonstrations (EDOCW), Ulm, Germany, 2014, pp. 163-172.

[3] C. Cassales Marquezan, D. Bruneo, F. Longo, F. Wessling, A. Metzger and A. Puliafito, “3-D Cloud Monitoring: Enabling Effective Cloud Infrastructure and Application Management.”, Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Network and Service Management (CNSM 2014), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2014

OS X Shortcuts

I just learned some great new shortcuts for OS X!

You can adjust the volume and brightness in finer grains than you are used to by simply pressing the "shift" and "alt" keys while doing so. Another nice shortcut is the overview of special characters and emoticons that you can trigger by pressing CTRL + CMD + space. This should work in any most text input boxes.

  • Finer-grained volume adjust: Shift + Alt + Volume-Button
  • Finer-grained brightness adjust: Shift + Alt + Brightness-Button
  • Special character and emoticon overview: CTRL + CMD + Space