Admiralo Island Witches Club demo

So you might be wondering what I’ve been working on, and haven’t been following my Patreon or whatever. Well, in addition to working on my usual variety of personal projects (even slowly progressing on Lewi), I’ve also been making soundtracks for other peoples' games.

One of those games is Admiralo Island Witches Club, a rather lovely visual novel in progress. The demo was just released today and while it’s just an introduction to the settings and characters, what’s there is really nice and I’m also very proud of the music I made (even though I want to change, like, everything about it).

Anyway, please check it out and leave cloverfirefly some nice comments on the game page. (And check out her other games too, while you’re at it! They’re good! I especially recommend Convergence.)

Federated video streaming

From the recently announced changes to Twitch prime, people are, understandably, upset about Twitch changing their monetization strategy, and are, predictably, wondering about the possibility of making a federated live-streaming platform.

The good news is that all of the stuff necessary to make federated live streaming happen already exist and wouldn’t be even all that hard to build.

The bad news is that it’ll probably be expensive to do well.

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Con report: Kobe-Kon 2018

This past weekend I participated in Kobe-Kon, also known as Kobekon, Kobe Konvention, Kobe Convention, and Kobekon Seattle. It takes place in Everett, WA.

Kobe-Kon is primarily an anime convention, but the Seattle Indies got a room for indie development outreach and games demonstration, and wanting to participate I got a table to show off my games Refactor and CATcher. Fellow exhibitors were Laughing Manatee Games, djbeardo, Ashley Rivas, Masha and Dustin Soodak, cloverfirefly, kz, and the Buoyancy team.

Because of the experiences I had I felt it would be helpful to other people to provide a write-up for future reference.

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On sharing wrist advice

Hi, you may have seen some of my pained ramblings about my chronic pain and have decided to offer some advice. Maybe I was venting on social media, or perhaps I wrote something on a forum a few days/months/years ago that you want to help with. While I do appreciate the sentiment, there are a few things you should consider before messaging me with your solutions to my problems!

First of all, I have been dealing with these problems since 1996. My wrist problems are old enough to drink. Statistically-speaking, I have probably been working on this since before you were programming, or using computers, or maybe even before you were born.

Second, I have written extensively about wrist problems and the treatments thereof. For example, I’ve written about my ergonomic setup, my self-care regimen, and about many of the problems with trying to get help. And that’s just what’s on my new site – I had quite a bit more on my old blog before I tore it down in a fit of pique a few months ago.

Perhaps you want to let me know about that Python programmer who used voice dictation, or that game programmer who used voice dictation and eye tracking, or that accessibility software that lets people type without their fingers. I am aware of them! They also aren’t solutions which help me with my problems; among what I do, writing code is actually not a very large component of it, and my approach to making things requires much more iteration and (so to speak) hands-on processes which aren’t easy to capture in voice dictation. Also, until there’s software that allows me to draw, or control a piano, guitar, or multitrack DAW software with my voice – and is also smart enough to rule out background noises and conversations with my cats – voice software at its best can only scratch the surface of the assistance I need. (Gaze tracking isn’t an answer either.)

And yes, I am also aware of software that can convert humming into notation! Logic actually comes with some built in. That stuff I actually do use somewhat, but its utility is still limited and, again, only scratches the surface of what’s necessary for music production. It won’t twiddle the knobs or set up my LFOs or even do basic effect routing for me. And I still have to clean all the notes up afterward anyway.

I also spend a significant amount of time helping other people with their code and performing code reviews and sharing best practices; when I am trying to help someone else who doesn’t know how to program very well, I can’t simply talk to them at a high level about how they should be doing it, since if they were on that level I probably wouldn’t be assisting them in the first place.

Perhaps you just want to share your story about what worked for you/your spouse/some random person you met on the bus. I’m very glad that it worked for you/your spouse/some random person you met on the bus! But it’s probably stuff I’ve heard before or tried already. And explaining that repeatedly doesn’t exactly help with my wrists either.

Also, I know this reponse may seem a bit grumpy; after all, you were only trying to help. It is difficult for me to remain civil, cheerful, and patient when I am constantly at a 7 or 8 on the Mankoski pain scale, which is when I am most likely to be venting about these problems in the first place.

So, again, thank you for wanting to share your advice, but please be aware of the greater context first.

Wrist wrest

My current wrist care regimen, which is… well, slowly helping me to not be in quite so much pain (more slowly than I’d like):

  • Using Time Out with the following breaks set up (in decreasing priority order):
    • Get to bed: break for 4 minutes every 19 minutes, between 1 AM and 6 AM
    • Normal: break for 3 minutes every 20 minutes, all day long; only allow 3 1-minute postponements per day, and show the postpone count
    • Micro: break for 10 seconds every 4 minutes
    • Exercise: 5 minutes every hour, all day long; only allow 3 5-minute postponements per day, and show the postpone count. Randomly selects one of a few different wrist- and core-strength exercises for me to do.
  • During a normal or get to bed break, do one of the following:
    • Clean something
    • Do some dishes
    • Spin a powerball (affiliate link)
    • Stretches
    • Squish some putty
  • Don’t worry about not getting stuff done
  • Type exclusively using a while (sometimes) wearing padded wrist braces (affiliate link)
  • Every time I walk through my office door, do some chin-ups (affiliate link)
  • Actually drink plenty of water and do stretches
  • Remember that it isn’t a race

(For Windows and Linux users, the closest equivalent to Time Out is Workrave although it has plenty of problems.)

Smart phones, smart watches, what’s next, a smart bed?

Lately my sleep has been pretty much garbage, and I probably need a sleep study. But sleep studies are expensive and a lot of hassle to maybe find out nothing’s actually wrong, so in the meantime I got a sleep tracker kit.

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Dysphoria Discourse

There has been yet another explosion of discourse over on Trans Twitter as a result of a couple of prominent people talking about their beliefs regarding dysphoria and what it means to be “really” trans.

The term “transmed” has come about, as an attempt at a more “gentle” form of what many folks call “truscum,” namely that you must feel dysphoria to be Really Trans, and that the end goal absolutely must be a “proper” transition, which is such an incredibly reductive, prescriptive, and invalidating set of concepts that it does much more harm than good to people who are already having difficulty questioning themselves and need support and compassion to figure out where they stand and what they need.

The problem with discussing dysphoria is that it’s such an ineffable, subjective concept that it’s impossible for two people to even agree on what it is – hell, it’s difficult for one person to agree on what it is – and it can also refer to so many things, many of which overshadow each other and behave in confusing ways, and thus how can any objective criterion be formed based on what essentially comes down to what someone’s feeling?

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On chronic pain

Note: While reading this you may be tempted to give me advice on things to help with chronic pain or wrist problems. Believe me when I say I have almost certainly heard it before, and I am not interested in advice; I simply want to help spread understanding.

I have, since my late teenage years, had chronic pain in both wrists, a result of heavy computer use that started when I was very young. I was fascinated by computers and absolutely determined to become an expert at everything that could be done on them; this drive led me to many spans of overworking as I tried to do everything I could in as short a time as I could. This obsessiveness combined with poor ergonomic practices led to a slow buildup of nerve adhesions and chronic tendinitis.

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My useless thoughts on Microsoft GitHub

A lot has been written about the impending buyout of GitHub by Microsoft. As a regular user of the former and not much of a user of the latter, people would probably expect me to be against this happening, but my feelings on it are largely positive.

And this comes from someone who used to refer to them as “M$!” (All I can say is I’ve grown a lot since the 90s.)

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Site updates

Wow, another silly meta update about this new site, go figure. I should probably come up with something more substantial to say, but this is pretty much all I have to talk about right now.

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My Dreamhost exit survey

This feels like the end of an era, after I spent so long recommending them and trying to make the best of their services even over the last few years.

RIP, my Dreamhost hosting plan (June 2007—June 2011).

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The Return of the Flickr Random Image Generatr

So, it’s not that the Flickr Random Image Generatr had actually gone anywhere, but when I migrated all my stuff to new hosting it broke, and while it was easy to get the old, crappy, written-in-Perl-in-two-hours-ten-years-ago version working again, I decided to rewrite it.

First off, the original purpose was for finding random images to post to forums, and as such I had a bunch of stuff to make it easy to do that. That was no longer a use case I want to overtly support, however, and I only keep the FLRIG up because I like using it to get random inspiration for settings and drawings and the like.

Another problem, though, is that the old version was directly parsing the RSS feed, which only provided limited information about the image; notably, it had no useful information about copyright in it, and every now and then I get an annoyed message from a photo’s owner claiming that I wasn’t properly attributing things or that I was stealing their images or the like. I had a standard response about how it’s just reformatting the Flickr public RSS feed, which didn’t provide any useful copyright information for me to display. Well, their Atom feed actually does provide license information, so I am better able to provide that information.

Since I was going to switch to the Atom feed, I figured I’d might as well switch to a proper feed parser, and if I was going to do that I’d might as well rewrite it in Python (which has a pretty good feed parsing library) and Flask.

Most of the code is actually in the Jinja template, and the way it filters stuff out of the description tag is incredibly shoddy, and the formatting could be better in general, but overall I think this is an improvement which will make the photographers happier.

Domain registrar recommendations?

So hey, I’m working on migrating all my hosting and registrations away from Dreamhost. As far as hosting goes I’m just going to host everything on my Linode server for now, since that’s paid up for the next two years or so and it has plenty of capacity available.

But I’m also using Dreamhost as my registrar and DNS provider at the moment, and I’d like to move those as well. (Not only do I not trust them at this point, but their DNS management tools are abysmal and geared only towards people using their hosting.)

What registrars do people recommend, and what DNS hosts do people recommend? In my ideal world they’d be one and the same, although I’m fine with doing a mix-and-match if it makes sense.

My hard requirement is having WHOIS privacy, and a very high priority is having DNS hosting included. Right now my three frontrunners are Hover, Namecheap, and Gandi. Here’s my impressions of them:

  • Hover:
    • Plus: Their DNS hosting is easy to work with, and supports wildcard records
    • Plus: WHOIS privacy is included
    • Minus: Their domain pricing isn’t the cheapest (.biz costs $15.99/year)
  • Namecheap:
    • Plus: They have the cheapest pricing for registrations (.biz costs $12.88/year)
    • Plus: Their DNS hosting looks pretty okay from their docs; it’s definitely better than Dreamhost’s, anyway!
    • Minus: They charge extra for WHOIS privacy ($2.88/year). Or maybe they don’t. Their site keeps flip-flopping on this.
    • Minus: I used them for HTTPS in the past (before LetsEncrypt was available) and they were difficult to work with and felt kinda sketchy/bait-and-switchy
  • Gandi:
    • Plus: Geeks love them
    • Plus: WHOIS privacy is included
    • Minus: Registrations are quite expensive (.biz costs $18.78)

So, it seems like Namecheap is my best bet, but I have misgivings about them based on my prior experiences with them and with how their WHOIS guard thing can’t decide whether it’s free or not…

Has anyone reading this formed an opinion about these three companies? Is there another one I really should look into?

Also, Linode supports DNS hosting as well, although the management tools are kind of crude/low-level and I’d also have to do all the DNS hosting transfer stuff if I were to change hosting providers, so if I’m going to bundle my DNS hosting with something I’d rather bundle it with the registrar. (Although for now I’ve transferred all of my DNS hosting over to LiNode which worked well enough. I guess any time I change hosting providers DNS is going to be a pain anyway, so.)

Update: Looks like the reason the back-and-forth was going on with Namecheap’s WhoisGuard pricing was because I happened to be checking their site while they were rolling out an update — they just officially announced that WhoisGuard is now “Free for life.” Well, that certainly makes my decision easier!

Time marches on

So, this is my first new blog entry on my brand new website, my first (relatively) clean start since the last accretion disc began in early 2003. I realize that the current blog template has none of the old template’s charm; don’t worry, I’ll be bringing the plaid look back eventually.

Here are some ruminations, brought on by me spending all evening going through my old blog trying to find things worth saving. There were a few useful articles here and there, which I have more fully-integrated into the rest of my site, but I’m finding that most of my old “blog content” is just not worth the hassle of preserving.

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