A painting of me

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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People complain that they no longer have “time to read,” but the reality, as the novelist Tim Parks has pointed out, is rarely that they literally can’t locate an empty half hour in the course of the day. What they mean is that when they do find a morsel of time, and use it to try to read, they find they’re too impatient to give themselves over to the task.
‘It is not simply that one is interrupted,” writes Parks. “It is that one is actually inclined to interruption.” It’s not so much that we’re too busy, or too distractible, but that we’re unwilling to accept the truth that reading is the sort of activity that largely operates according to its own schedule. You can’t hurry it very much before the experience begins to lose its meaning; it refuses to consent, you might say, to our desire to exert control over how our time unfolds.
Oliver Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks, one of the best works of non-fiction I have read.

Mahabalipuram

   13 February 2023, late at night

Mahabalipuram

I’ve been paying (a lot) of money to get my photographs developed. This has been the other thing that’s pulled me back into photography. This roll was from 13 years ago, shot during our trip to India. As rolls of film go, I was pretty happy with the photos I took. Even when I get a roll back and feel the photos are a bit disappointing, it’s still weirdly engrossing. Old rolls of film are like a time capsule. There is nostalgia and emotion tied up in seeing these old images—for me, anyway.

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Anser

   10 February 2023, lunch time

February 10, 2023 - Anser

Is this old graffiti, or something new since Anser returned to the city. One of my favourite artists all the same. I need to figure out how to set up a photoblog that’s a lot lower friction than posting to Textpattern like this. Both Flickr (where this image is currently hosted) and Mastodon seem like viable options, but I want stuff to exist on my own domain. I might look at creating a script to create static pages based on stuff posted elsewhere.

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Ricoh GR III

   8 February 2023, mid-afternoon

After meeting Ali at MaRS to catch up, I walked over to the Service Ontario in College Park to try and renew my health card. You can make appointments online nowadays. That would have been good to know before I arrived. I had nothing else to do, so I sat down and read a book while waiting. All in all it took about an hour, and probably 90% of the time was waiting: live and learn. Walking back to the subway, I spotted an Aden Camera. I walked in and left with a Ricoh GR III, quite the impulse purchase.

I’ve had the camera on my mind for the last few months. I love my GR Digital IV, but it’s really showing its age. At this point I almost exclusively use it to shoot candid portraits at parties in black and white with its fill flash to light the scene. It’s a whole aesthetic. In many other situations, my iPhone feels like it does a better job. That’s probably not quite true, but it’s true enough.

Hopefully this camera lives up to its predecessors. There seems to be a lot of hype around it, which feels funny to me. The original GR Digital had a bit of a cult following: lots of people felt the noisy JPEG photographs looked like film. Daido Moriyama shot with the older film camera, the GR1, perhaps giving it some notoriety. For the most part I always felt Ricoh was an obscure camera for photography nerds. This latest iteration seems have a bit of a following, perhaps scooping up people who were unable to buy the Fujifilm X100V. For my part, right off the bat I love that it charges with USB-C and can send pictures directly to my phone is already quite promising. I’ll have to see what else it has to offer soon.

Expect more photos.

Ricoh GR III - Portrait Test Colour

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Everything Everywhere All At Once

   21 January 2023, late morning

I have finally watched Everything Everywhere All At Once! I didn’t think the film could live up to all the hype that’s built up in my head, but somehow it was even better and weirder than I thought it would be. The always incredible Michelle Yeoh plays an bitter old immigrant mom who runs a laundromat being audited by the IRS; her sweeter husband is played by Ke Huy Quan; rounding out the main cast is Stephanie Hsu as Yeoh’s daughter, and Jamie Lee Curtis as the IRS auditor. There is a multiverse, and Michelle Yeoh and her family are all up in it. There is much more to the film, but you should watch it to find out what’s up. The movie feels like it moves between genres and moods with ease and grace: one minute you’re watching a Jackie Chan film, the next a Wong Kar Wai film. It feels like the best of Hong Kong cinema, but somehow made in the US. The cast does a wonderful job with their roles: funny when they need to be, and then all of a sudden so serious. Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan won Golden Globes for their roles, both well deserved. A film well worth watching. I wish I had trekked out to the cinema to see it.

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My Neighbour Totoro

   14 January 2023, mid-afternoon

My brothers are in town. Last night we sat down and watched My Neighbour Totoro together. The story is simple: two sisters move to a rundown house in the countryside to be closer to their hospitalized mother; they explore the wilderness, and meet a magical creature called Totoro. The stakes are never too high. It’s a film set in the countryside that feels like it perfectly captures the pacing of the countryside. The animation is beautiful, full of now iconic images. The film’s score somehow is just as excellent. How had I made it to 42 without having seen it?

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RRR

   14 January 2023, early morning

RRR, the latest film from SS Rajamouli, tells the incredibly fictional tale of the revolutionary bromance of two real people: Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem. This film is throughly ridiculous and amazing. Every performance is over the top in the best way possible. We have two bros: Raju, a British officer and totally jacked Indian man, alongside Bheem, a Liam Nielsen-esque protector of his tribe, who is also totally jacked. Comically evil British people have stolen a child from Bheem’s village. He is off to rescue the child, and Raju is off to stop him. The film is 3 hours long and is electric throughout.

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