Day four

One of my goals during the first half of my sabbatical is to reach Legend rank at Hearthstone.

I have been playing and enjoying the game for a while now, I am not the best player but I think I am reaching a decent level for the amount of practice I have.

And that’s the problem: the amount of time available, not only to practice but simply to play.

The principle is quite simple: you play a game against another player and either you win and get a star or lose and lose a star. When you win three games in a row, you enter a “streak” and from there each victory brings two stars until you lose one game.  There are 25 ranks to reach Legend, and each tier of five ranks becomes a bit harder:

  • 25-21: 2 stars per rank
  • 20-16: 3 stars per rank
  • 15-11: 4 stars per rank
  • 10-6: 5 stars per rank
  • 5-1: 5 stars per rank, no more streaks.

To reach rank five from 25 you need 70 stars, while to reach legend from rank five you need only 25. The streak system though means that from rank 25 to five you can make progress even if you only win 50% of your games, given that winning three in a row gets you four stars, and losing three then loses only three. With a 60% win rate (which is considered rather good for an amateur), and assuming you hit the streak a decent amount of time, my experience shows that you need to play about 130 games to reach rank 5.

From rank 5, no more streaks, which means that you absolutely need to win more than 50% of the time to progress. and also that with the same 60% win rate, you’ll need to play 125 games to win 75 (60%) and lose 50 for a differential of 25 stars won.

So, here’s why I have not been able to get to legend yet, and rarely past rank 5: playing 130 games in a month, or about 4 to 5 per day in average is something I can do, but twice as much so far has been impossible. Regardless of skill, Hearthstone is a game that rewards intensive play.

I reached rank 5 last night, let’s see how it goes…

 

Day three

Or how I found that google maps, spreadsheets, and a web browser are a great way to ease into the scary depths of a long leave from work… 🙂

Yesterday I spent the day defining most details of a family trip for August, following the constraints I allowed my daughter Eva to set:

  • In the UK
  • Including some time in London
  • No cars involved

I came up with an interesting intinerary, that will see us land in London and ride trains (and a boat and two buses) around Great Britain, including a few special Harry Potter landmarks, from Oxford, to the Hogwarts Express (props to my colleague Clicky Steve) to an arrival in London’s Kings Cross station at the end of the journey.

UKSummer17

(Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t allow for multi-step train journeys, so I used the car directions to approximate it).

Of course, such a trip requires to gather info from many timetables, book hotels, and have all that information readily available, so here goes the spreadsheet:

spreadsheet

Sorry for all the blurring, but I didn’t feel like broadcasting publicly the whole itinerary down to the dates and hotels, not that I fear that a large crowd would wait for me, mostly only on principle.

Let’s see how many other ways I can find to use a computer that can’t be assimilated to work, but still use the same tools… 🙂

Day two

The smartphone is probably the object that has the most influence on our lives these days. From the choice of apps we use to the type of notifications, from email to calendars, these little bricks of glass, metal, and plastic drive our habits.

This is why I decided that heading into this new experience of 12 weeks without work, I would have to make some changes. I present you my usual iPhone home screen on the left, and the new one I set up yesterday on the right:

Some apps disappeared completely, some have been placed in folders while others replaced them. This is, of course, an iterative process, it took a very long time to get to the screen on the left, which has been the object of a flash-talk I gave at the Automattic Grand Meetup last year, and probably should become a blog post.

I expect the content of my sabbatical home screen to evolve also, but for now here are the main differences:

  • The bottom section is oriented towards content consumption, content creation, and communication when it was previously heavily weighted towards productivity.
  • Email and Slack have disappeared: these are by far the most distracting ones during a leave.
  • While communication tools are present in both screens, the new one is radically oriented towards leisure. It’s actually interesting to realise that many of the people I want to be in touch with during my leave are people I actually work with, but we separate professional and private interactions across different apps.

Day one

One of the perks that Automattic offers every five years is a three-month paid sabbatical leave. I am starting mine today; I think I haven’t been off for three months in a row since elementary school.

As the lead of WordCamp Europe 2017 that just took place in Paris, of the Spectrum Division at Automattic, and of the .blog project, the last few months have been really intense.

I am not sure what to expect from twelve weeks disconnected from my work and my colleagues, but I kicked it off by sleeping 15 hours in a row last night…

The only things I know for sure are that when the workload is high, two things I miss are reading, and blogging. I’ll try to do as much as I can of each, and of all the other things that usually get postponed when the time is scarce.