Saturday, March 9, 2019

Spending one week in Royal Holloway, University of London

I have to the chance to spend one week in Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) where I attended the module 'Smart Cards' with a friend from Oxford. 'Smart Cards' is module is run by the CDT in Cyber Security at RHUL.

Besides attending the classes, I have done a lot of interesting things during my time in RHUL. RHUL is located in Egham, a small town in the south east of England. It was incredible to spend one week over there and I've had a lot of fun! Here is how my whole trip went (17 February 2019 until 22 February 2019):

Day 1: Arrival at The Hub 

We've arrived at Egham afternoon and took a bus to the RHUL campus:


The campus looked absolutely stunning, entering RHUL: 


Other nice shots:


There is a lot of green on campus, which makes it more beautiful:






RHUL also has great events:


I was extremely impressed by their modern library, which is in a building named Emily Wilding Davison Building. It looked very beautiful and I have studied in it for the rest of the week. The building have had an investment of £57m!


RHUL at night:


I've also visited their beautiful Chapel:


For dinner, we headed to CASPARI, an Italian restaurant:



The meals were really nice:




I was allocated a room at The Hub Guesthouse; a place where they offer guest rooms that look like a hotel. My room was quite small but it had a great view! The location of the room was ideal as it was close to classes and other universities facilities. Here are some photos:





Day 2: First (and long) day of classes 

We've had breakfast in their dining hall, which looked pretty:


The, we headed back to this large lecture room for the module:



Lectures schedule:



As for dinner, we tried Prezzo, another Italian restaurant:




Day 3: Haircut and Shisha

I've had a great haircut on this day, I found  many beautiful places in Egham such as: Strode's College:


The shisha wasn't so good though: 

Day 4: Bar and Breakfast




We had a nice breakfast in the Hall again:


We also tried The Hub Dining Hall, which had a great variety of options:



At night, we met one student from RHUL Cyber Security and had a great time at a pub called The Happy Man:



Day 5: Bowling 

On this day, we went to social event with RHUL Cyber Security people where we did some bowling:



Day 6: Leaving RHUL

We had a really nice breakfast at RHUL Boiler House: 


Last photos in a sunny day at RHUL before leaving:




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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Shocked after knowing that I spent £1394.45 on Blizzard Entertainment's Hearthstone

In Summer 2017, my friend from Lebanon introduced me to one legendary collectible cards game called Hearthstone. Here is a short summary of Hearthstone's success from Wikipedia:

Hearthstone, originally Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, is a free-to-play online collectible card video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. Having been released worldwide on March 11, 2014, Hearthstone builds upon the existing lore of the Warcraft series by using the same elements, characters, and relics. It was first released for Microsoft Windows and macOS, with support for iOS and Android devices being added later. The game features cross-platform play, allowing players on any supported device to compete with one another, restricted only by geographical region account limits.

The game has been favorably reviewed by critics and has been a success for Blizzard, earning nearly US$40 million per month as of August 2017. As of November 2018, Blizzard has reported more than 100 million Hearthstone players. The game has become popular as an esport, with cash prize tournaments hosted by Blizzard and other organizers.

Up until 1 January 2019, I've played it probably for hundreds of hours. It has been a fun and portal game. Here is a video on Youtube of me playing against a Twitch streamer:


However, Hearthstone is an expensive game. According to an article from Polygon, Hearthstone costs on average 400$ per year:

Blizzard released Kobolds and Catacombs, its latest expansion for Hearthstone, on Dec. 7. The expansion adds 135 new cards to the game, and brings some interesting deck possibilities into the mix, but players are getting frustrated with the increasing cost of keeping up with the game’s competitive scene.

Both the games media and prominent community voices have started talking about how incredibly expensive this game has become, and the data supports their unease. It has never been more expensive to play Hearthstone competitively.

The fact that I've spent that amount of money on a video is insane. Despite my love for Blizzard's Hearthstone and despite the fact that Hearthstone is extremely expensive, I feel that this was a case of serious and reckless spending. I've taken the decision to not spend any money anymore on this game.

I was able to compile a list of all purchases from invoices and put them in a PDF, which is public and you can see it or download by clicking here. Here is a snapshot of the file:


In total, here is the amount spent in three currencies:



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