A painting of me

Funkaoshi: Year 20

   20 November 2023, late morning

When I remarked on my blogs 10th anniversary I said “Ten years is a long time on the Internet. It’s a long time in real life, I suppose.” Twenty years is a really long time. This blog still runs on Textpattern, its layout more or less unchanged for well over a decade. Iconic in its simplicity? Let’s go with that.

I post far less than I used to, but that’s been true for many years now. My D&D blog is far more active. The the old-school D&D scene feels like a microcosm of what could have been when it comes to the medium: people still having long form conversations via blog posts. Waxy, Anil Dash, Kottke, Daring Fireball and few others continue to be relevant and interesting, but they feel like rare survivors of this form. I am always curious if the second coming of blogging is around the corner: perhaps when people tire of video.

This blog remains something I care a lot about. It’s a window into who I was these proceeding 20 years. In some ways it’s terrifying having something like this online: I have said lots and lots of really dumb things on the internet. Some smart things too. I love being able to mine this site for my mood or my interests over the years. I’ve been married to Shima for 20 years now. We had met earlier in the year when I first began this blog. My daughter is almost 13. My mom passed away. This blog has catalogued various milestones of my life. It’s also missed plenty: did you know i’ve taken this year off work? Wild!

The glory days of this blog have likely come and gone, but it will always remain a place for my random thoughts and interests. A blog doesn’t need to be profound: it just needs to be a place to post some text you want to share.

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Top Boy

   17 October 2023, early afternoon

I binged Top Boy like an addict from the show. I’m not sure what got me to start watching in the first place, but a couple episodes in and I was hooked. The series follows two friends, drug dealers, as they try and get to the top of the drug game in Hackney (London). The series was first produced in England, ran for two seasons, and despite its popularity was cancelled. That series is on Netflix now under the title Top Boy: Summerhouse. To say it ends abruptly would be an understatement. Netflix revived the show 6 years later, and did three more seasons. The show is a pretty unglamourous look at the drug game. The two leads are incredible. Kano in particular gets better and better as an actor, till it feels like he’s in the stratosphere by the last season, he so embodies the part. I really love the show, and i’m not sure what i’ll do to fill the my time now. Well, besides listening to some UK rap.

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Ru

   14 September 2023, mid-afternoon

My second film at TIFF was Ru, which I watched alone in the afternoon—one of the perks of being off at the moment. Kim Thúy, the author of the autobiographical book this film was based on, was in attendance as she served as an executive producer on the film. She’s so funny, bubbly, and joyous in real life. Not really what I was expecting after reading her book. The actress who plays her character in the movie also has that same energy, which was funny since in the film she is a force of quiet sadness throughout. The movie was incredible. The sort of film that makes you love movies. Well shot, acted, and scored. It’s such a tightly put together movie. A movie that takes its time with its shots, but never feels slow. I’m off to read the book again.

Watch the trailer for Ru.

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Miyoo Mini Plus

   1 April 2023, evening time

I ordered a Miyoo Mini Plus from Keep Retro earlier this month, which arrived this week. It’s a small portable console designed to play games for older retro consoles. I was keen to play some old NES, SNES and GBA games and this thing fit the bill. The original version of this device is notorious for being sold out all the time, and this new model seems to similarly have stock issues. (The RG35XX is the other fan favourite, that you can likely buy right now.)

The stock OS it comes with is kind of dreadful. I was worried I had made a mistake after playing with it for a a little while. Everyone’s advice is to install an alternative operating system, OnionOS, which improves the performance and quality of the emulators the system runs. Unfortunately that OS isn’t available for the Plus just yet. I opted to install another operating system that is more inline with what I’m looking for anyway, DotUI. It’s a minimalist OS that is removes all the options you probably don’t care about and refines the play experience. I love it.

So, if you end up picking one of these devices upgrading the OS is the first thing you do:

1. Format a new MicroSD card. (I just used the one that came with the device. If you go this route, you should back it up first.)
2. Download the latest release of DotUI from its releases page on Github. For example, I grabbed the zip file for DotUI-20230321b.
3. Unzip your download and copy it all to the root folder of your MicroSD card.
4. Copy any ROMs you want to the appropriate ROMs folder.
5. Put the MicroSD card in your device and boot it up. It’ll just magically do the rest.

Could it be any easier?

I’ve been playing Chrono Trigger, which is amazing. I somehow made it out of the 90s without ever playing it. Of course, pictured above is a screenshot of Final Fantasy VI, the greatest game ever made.

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Singin' in the Rain

   22 March 2023, early evening

I watched Singin’ in the Rain for the first time a few years ago. I don’t recall what prompted me to finally watch it, beyond it being this classic of cinema. I recently picked the film up on Blu-Ray so I could watch it in fancy 4K, and watched it again today. Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen play silent movie stars who must make the transition to the world of films with sound. The catch is that Hagen has a terrible voice! Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor round out the cast. This film lives up to all its praise and hype. It’s an incredible movie. I’m not a big fan of musicals, but this one features such amazing dance numbers. (The most impressive one being this total non-sequitor clearly inserted to show case Kelly’s talent.) Make the time to watch this.

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Scaling Images to Fit with CSS

   6 March 2023, late morning

In the past when I would post a photograph on this blog I would resize it to 423px, so it would fit neatly in the enclosing box of a post. This is annoying and fussy work just to add an image to a post, and I don’t recall if the reason I was doing it at the time was to save bytes when downloading these pages or what. I want to be a bit more future proof going forward in case I end up redoing the layout here, making the main column wider for example. The image in the post about Craig Mod is 1024px. It’s scaled with CSS, or it should be. This seemed both fussier than it should be, but also seemingly so easy I should have done it from the start. I’ve set width:100% and height:auto to override the values Textpattern sets. This should scale the width to match the containing box, and the height to scale to keep the aspect ration. I’ve also set max-width: 100% so the image never has to scale up past its actual size. This later step probably not needed based on how the blog is currently designed: to fit on old 640×480 screens. Please let me know if i’ve broken the layout here!

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Craig Mod's Special Projects

   6 March 2023, mid-morning

I’ve been following Craig Mod and his work for over a decade now. My copy of Art Space Tokyo is one of my favourite books, one I hope to finally put to use this May. In recent years he’s been publishing a newsletter, Rodan, which I have enjoyed reading for its mix of photography, travel blogging, and occasional nerdy discussions. He has been funding special projects and walks through membership drives, in the vein of PBS or NPR. He wrote about that activity recently, and for whatever reason this year his writing finally sucked me in: I signed up! (You can too, if you are the sort of person that loves supporting people’s artistic endeavours.)

I’m now watching a video of him talking about his book Kissa by Kissa. It’s an interesting deep dive into his process, but also into his almost neurotic levels of perfectionism that I am 100% here for. I love books. I love well made beautiful books. It’s amazing to listen to someone talk at length about the pains they went to in order for this book they made to be the best book it could possibly be.

Of course I bought the book as well.

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Candid Photography and my old Ricohs

   21 February 2023, mid-afternoon

Self Portrait

I picked up an online course by Greg Williams, who does candid photography (of celebrities) that I quite like. Candid photography is what I enjoy shooting the most. I started my life as a yearbook photographer, and I suppose that is the direction I am always pulled. I was lamenting to Shima that I feel out of practice when taking photos. I look back at old pictures and think, “I shot this?” (The same tragedy when I read old math assignments from university: “this is my handwriting?”) I thought watching to this course would give me some ideas and get me thinking about photography once again. I find it interesting to listen to people break down their process and approach to their work.

Greg’s class doesn’t focus at all on cameras and lenses and that nonsense, but I noticed Greg Williams shoots predominantly in 28mm, a focal length I love. A few years ago I wrote about the 28mm focal length on my Format portfolio, and the sorts of things it lets you do with a photograph. All of my Ricoh’s are 28mm fixed lens cameras, and they have been my go-to camera for the 10-15 years. I don’t think expensive cameras or particular gear will net you better photographs, but I do think the gear you have ends up informing how you photograph the world.

Both my GR Digital II and IV do a poor job with low-light photography. The photos I get out of the camera often have off putting white balance and ugly noise when I shoot at night. I’m sure I could have worked to figure out how to correct that, in camera or via post-processing, but in the end the route I took was far simpler: shoot in black and white and use the fill-flash to light the shots. Those tiny flashes on your camera are simply there to blast the shadows out of people’s faces, so shooting at night with my Ricoh is all about jamming my camera in people’s faces. The depth of field on that camera is quite wide, between the focal length of the lens and the size of the sensor. Shooting this way makes the background disappear into black. You end up with a tighter (fake) depth of field, as the subject ends up being the only thing in focus in the photograph, more or less. The photographs are about the people in the scene, the environment often bleeds away.

Limin

Mythilli

Shima and Krishna: Dancing

Me

This look ended up defining all of the parties and outing at Security Compass, but sadly those photographs are all private. You’ll have to imagine me and my old coworkers having fun.

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