Pensions, Perseverance and Plants

Wait, the week is over already? This one got away from me, and I’m not entirely sure what happened. Well the sun is out, and I’m back outside, so while the getting’s good, let’s go back over it and piece it together!

Any good week starts with a Friday. Largely because that’s when I’m not doing contract work, but also, well think about it; your week starts and that Monday feeling is instantly paired with the Friday feeling. So although your week has just begun, you know you have two free days immediately after you’re done with day one! It’s perfect. Course, then you have the rest of the week knowing you already spent your free days, but you can’t have it all. I digress… Last Friday was dedicated to the business side of #EgoProblems. My main aim for the day was to join a pension scheme, so that come September, I’m legally able to take on my new hire.

Much like the last blog’s foray into payslips, the first thing you’ll find when you check the government website on pension schemes is a plethora of choice. Actually, the first thing you’ll find is an article about COVID-19 and 18 different articles about topics loosely related to pensions. Don’t try using the government website search tool, it’s awful. Instead, Googling for the government page on pension schemes will take you to a helpful “how-to” guide, that basically says “Pick one. We can’t recommend you any one scheme, but here’s a loose list of vaguely reputable company front pages. Go.”

Interestingly, one of these schemes (NEST) is actually a fully government run package, and unlike the competition, which are all likely owned and operated by friends of the conservative cabinet, this scheme is free for employers. I went with that one. The downside is that it takes a slightly larger cut of contributions, but not by much, so not having an upfront cost seemed worth it to me, especially given it’s for a single employee for the foreseeable.

Setup was actually surprisingly simple. I guess riding high off the back of my payroll success, with all the terminology fresh in my mind, I was able to blast through the process, pausing only to realise I hadn’t actually activated my PAYE account, which I quickly rectified. Once the setup was done I had achieved all I could. The scheme literally wouldn’t let me do anything else until I had someone enrolled. Which won’t happen until September. Great success? We’ll see.

The rest of the week involved a lot of shouting at an Xbox. Due to some changes in the codebase I’m working in for SockMonkey, the login process for Switch and Xbox needed to be rewritten. Switch was simple enough, but Microsoft, in their unique special way, seem to pride in making everything as painful as possible. Finally, with a lot of tweaking, some well placed coroutines, and a lot of shouting, it worked. Again. Still, as an added bonus I got the game loading to finally work on Xbox, a task that had eluded me for a while, so all in all a productive week!

Background for non-techies: A coroutine in Unity is a pretty neat thing. When you code normally, you execute things linearly; one line does not run until the line above it has finished. A way of breaking that rule is threading, this is where you fire off a job to a background thread (basically another part of your CPU) where it happens as other bits of code operate in the foreground. It’s complicated, messy, and Unity doesn’t like it. We also don’t tend to have that much control over it. Once it’s gone it handles itself, running at whatever pace it can. A coroutine achieves the same thing, executing code without blocking other code from running, only without the threading. It is basically a function that you can exit out of partway, and next frame (or in an amount of time you specify) it will pick up where it left off. This means we can get it to do jobs where it may need to wait, or if you want it to continuously check for a situation, it can do that, without freezing the game up.

I don’t have much to wrap things up with this week; as I mentioned, it got away from me a bit. Free time has felt a bit scarce, and has been dedicated to relaxing. The #EgoVeg has been flourishing while we kicked back though! The veg patch appears to have doubled in size since I last looked, and we’ve been picking broad beans and peas. We even have some tomatoes appearing! It’s all very exciting! I’ll leave you with a picture:

Matt out.

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