Jonathan Field - Maker of Random Stuff

…A New Car!

So my rental car has a broken CD player. And I just can’t put up with that. It’s not that I even spend all that much time in the car — you can drive from one end of Dundee to the other in less time than it takes to listen to “Spirit In The Sky” — but once in a while I do a bit of a drive and I miss my music.

I call the rental car place and ask if I can do a trade. Turns out that I can, and I don’t even have to make the 5 hour drive to Joburg: they have an office an hour away in Newcastle. They inform me, however, that the car I currently have — the Hyundai ATOS, is actually a free upgrade that I got because they were out of the true economy ones when I arrived! It’s hard to imagine a much cheaper car than this, but they inform me that if I want to do the trade I’ll end up with a Kia Picanto: it’ll have a working CD player, but I’ll lose my air conditioning. After a bit of consideration I drive over to Newcastle and swap.

Kia Picanto vs. Hyundai ATOS


– working CD + iPod hookup
– keyless entry
– tachometer
– clock in dash (Hyundai had no clock)
– stable rear-view mirror (Hyundai mirror vibrated)
– looks a bit slicker


– no air conditioning
– all black makes it mo’ hot
– no power windows
– no power steering
– fewer storage spots

I call it a win. Though even on the ride home I sweat against the seat until my shirt sticks.

As I’m leaving Newcastle I spot a new swanky-looking casino — a little bit o’ home right here! All nostalgic, I go in. It’s on the small side, but more or less like every casino. Slot machines the world over use the same annoying sounds. It’s relatively quiet, but this is early on a Monday afternoon.

I grab a steak and a beer at the casino restaurant where I chat for a moment with my waiter. He’s from Rorke’s Drift, a rural area somewhat near Nqutu. I’m a bit surprised because his English is flawless and his accent sounds slightly Australian. He spots my Zulu book and and says “Oh, that’ll be hard for you! Like if I tried to learn Japanese!” I ask how many languages he speaks. “Let’s see: English, Zulu, Afrikaans, Sotho…”

After I finish eating I write down some ideas for the game I’m planning to write for Simangaliso’s 10th grade math class. I want to make something that is extensible, so that Simangaliso (or perhaps even other teachers), can add different types of questions to it. Maybe the teachers can prepare a file of multiple choice questions, and then insert them into the game.

But what type of game? What would appeal to the kids here?

My first idea is a Tetris game where you can only rotate/move the pieces after you’ve answered each question. Tetris is pretty universal in appeal. Then I think maybe that’ll be too complicated for kids who have never played computer games before. My second idea is something like a driving game where you pass cars by answering question. Cars are a pretty powerful status symbol here, so I figure that would get them at least a little excited, though perhaps it’s a bit too male oriented.

What about something like Farmville where you make money by answering questions and then customizing your land? That seems like it would be the most difficult for me to program, given that I don’t actually understand the dynamics of the game, and I’d have to come up with a lot more creative content to give it depth.

I’ll mull this over for a while and hopefully start in coding before too long. Suggestions are welcome.

Alan and Donna drop off another infected and malfunctioning PC shortly after I get back to Dundee. I spend the rest of the night cracking it and fixing it using my recently learned skillz.

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One Response to …A New Car!

  1. Pros and Cons

    This is a tough one MUSIC or AC

    I LOVE my MUSIC. but you do have a voice. Good or bad you can always sing to your self. Just think of Pop. He did it, so can you.

    AC. no matter how many hand made fans, blowing on your self, sticking to your seat, I think the AC had to win.


    I would have sang. kept the AC

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