I love music. It’s incredibly rare that I’m ever not listening to something (music or podcast). Between walking to work, hammering away at the code, walking home, driving long distances and doing chores, my life has a soundtrack.
And up until earlier this week, I would have been listening to music via Google Play’s service. I’d dabbled with Spotify for a while but being an Android user I moved over a while back to take advantage of Google Play’s better (at the time) app and the ability to store my own music on there. This last feature was a massive draw. My MP3 collection is something I’ve been building since I got my first iPod way back in 2004. Even if the quality is meh, it’s still got a bit of an emotional link. Even some of the audio issues have become familar.
However, Google Play Music as a system is… lacking. To put it nicely, Google is being Google and trying to get everyone onto Youtube Music by making Google Play Music unbearable. I don’t there has been a major update to it in the last year and it’s just clunky. All the little niggles and annoyances had started to pile up but I was pretty set on riding Google Play Music straight into hell (much like I had done with Google Reader).
There was, however, a final straw. Expecting the incredibly unique tone of La Roux, I was horrified to find Google had decided to replace it in my online library with a sound-a-like. The same had also happened to several Queen songs.
So 20 minutes after this discovery I was back on Spotify Premium (for the first time in several years), copying all my playlists via Soundizz and enjoying Spotify’s much-improved client. It seems my MP3 collection will now just have to live on my NAS, there for the day when the internet dies.
As someone who rarely drinks coffee, and prefers his daily dose of caffeine in carbonated form, I am entirely ill equipped to talk in depth about espresso machines. When it comes to coffee, the way I drink it is usually instant with a spoonful of sugar. If I’m going for a hot drink, a nice high quality hot chocolate fits the bill. Whipped cream and marshmallows preferred.
If you don’t know what a Middlesbrough is, it’s a town in the North of England, close to the coast. It’s an old industrial town that was basically gutted when the shipbuilding and iron mining closed down turning Ironopolis, the town that built the Sidney Harbour Bridge on the other side of the world, into a place more likely known for it’s poverty than it’s former glories.
It feels rough when you visit. Driving in, you pass the rows and rows of empty terrace houses where people used to live. The local shops feel run down and unloved. It’s all just a little bit tatty. First year students would scare each other talking about ending up in the bad part of town. In the summer you can see the banding in the sky where something from the chemical works across the river has been thrown into the sky. You might be forgiven for thinking that The Road To Hell by Chris Rea (who was born in Middlesbrough) is talking about the A19 heading eastwards into the darkness.
But here’s the thing. For a place with all these negatives, I choose to go back there, of my own free will, several times a year. We still host our Rejunion there even though, year by year, more and more of the attendees have scattered to the four ends of the country (and in some cases the world). I have enjoyed most of my post-18 New Year’s Eve’s in Middlesbrough, normally in someone’s house before trekking back through the terraces and parks to wherever I was staying that time. Every time I visit, there is always that urge to get out and walk the streets to take in the familiar sights. I’d even dare to say, that on a Summer’s eve just as the sunset lights up the old Victorian buildings around Linthrope Park, you could say the place is almost beautiful.
I have a lot of fond memories of Middlesbrough. It was the perfect university town for me – small and easy to walk across, with the range of shops a student away from home would need. It was just far enough from Leeds that my parent’s couldn’t just “drop in for a visit” but close enough that I could get away and back to family when it was all too much. It was a place where the students and the locals intermingled rather than one group only turning up to cause trouble on a Friday night. The friends I made in my three years there are the core of the people I still try to keep in contact with. And without all of us sharing the experience of living in it, I doubt we’d think anything of the small ex-industrial town on the river side.
So yeah, it’s been knocked down from the heights it used to occupy. It’s not the historical wonder of Edinburgh, the strangeness of Brighton or old time charm of Dundee. And yeah, we graduates might make the occasional remark about how “at least we’re not in Middlesbrough” when discussing other places. But by god, whenever the A1 is closed and I’m diverted down the A19 and “Teesside” appears on the sign, I can’t help the smile that comes to my face.
I’ve been running a site at https://hntdaab.co.uk/blog for going on 9 years at this point. Over that time, it’s changed platforms, gone through re-designs, refocused on various topics and is now a modern wargames focused blog with schedules and plannings and a trello board. It’s got a brand of itself – I think it’s really cool and I’ve had plenty of nice comments about the stuff I post on there.
The problem with having a brand is that you need to carefully chose what you post. As I found out early on, putting up off-brand stuff is a sure way of losing readers super fast. So, as the wargaming took over, I lost a place where I could write about other things. I lost the place where I wrote about getting my first industry job and then losing it 18 months later. I lost the place where I wrote about films and music and books and games and tech and airsoft and life. Sure I could use Tumblr or Twitter but it doesn’t feel quite as solid as living on my network host, being something that is backed up at a file level to my NAS box. I also like writing long form stuff.
For this reason, I’m setting up Other ChargeBlog. It’s the flip side of the coin to ChargeBlog – everything but the wargaming (mostly – you might see big wargaming news appear here). It’s got no schedule, no major topics, no adverts, no analytics – just me and my writing. There are things I can’t talk about (working for a games developer will do that) but apart from that it’s me writing what I want to.
Okay, you may have somehow found yourself on this site and not know who I am. Somehow you fell through an internet hole and found yourself here.
Well, I’m Michael Charge. Born in the 1990’s in the North of England, did four years in Universities (Teesside and Abertay) ending up with a MProf in games development. Worked on mobile games in Brighton for 18 months, gained some funny stories and then had to go find something new. I almost ended up leaving games before being hired by certain AAA developer and moved up to Edinburgh (my favourite city) in 2016. As well as games development I also like wargames (there is a whole site for that though), studying history and warfare, tech and all the usual stuff. I’m probably not as fit as I should, the monthly airsoft having gone down as the lead started piling up to be painted. I listen to a lot different things and have about 60 podcasts lined up in PocketCasts.
Long and the short of it, lets get back to writing about everything. See you on the flipside every so often