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the joys of streaming

Okay, so, I kinda-sorta had my streaming setup working pretty okay, with the big problem that I wasn’t able to get audio to come through digitally, and instead had to mix everything through the analog outs, going to the noisy input on the external USB audio interface. Not ideal. Also, the AVermedia drivers are unreliable and the app is crashy, and I didn’t have a good way of running the app at 1080p anyway (my laptop’s internal screen is only 768p and the HDMI dummy display I had was being unreliable about setting 1080p and there was no way to maximize the window without being able to click on it anyway, and on and on and on).

So, I went to Amazon and found a couple of devices which simply convert HDMI to a standard webcam input – exactly what I wanted, because this could let OBS capture the audio and video as if it were a webcam. Which works really really well.

Unfortunately, neither device worked quite right; the one with the built-in splitter acts as a TV (for obvious reasons) and the HDMI passthrough thus uses a television colorspace, which doesn’t look right on the connected RGB-only DVI monitor. But audio works well.

The one without the splitter (using the external splitter) had all sorts of weird inconsistent colorspace behavior depending on which order things were plugged in, and I could never get audio to work at all.

Oh, and another thing I tried that almost worked was to plug my piano monitor into the second monitor output on the laptop, and run REcentral full-screen on that monitor. The resulting lag was a little annoying, but much worse was REcentral completely crapping out and going garbagey while I was trying to use it. Plus, I’m not a fan of any setup where I need the Windows machine to be on and fully-working just to use the external monitor. So that worked even worse than I’d expected.

So, for now I’m using the one with the built-in splitter and just dealing with weird colors on the monitor, and in the meantime I’ve ordered a cheap 24" HDTV that I can put up in place of the monitor. because of course I’m going to throw more money at this problem, because it’s irritating that I can’t get things to work quite right.

Oh, and meanwhile, I was also running into issues with macOS always detecting the capture device as preferring 720p, but fortunately it turns out that SwitchResX handles this. I was prepared to pay the $15 for it when I realized, wait, I already bought it back in 2005! And my license is still good for the current version! Yay! (Unfortunately this means my deadname is on the registration screen. I suppose I could ask them if I could get the name changed on the serial but I doubt it. If it really bothers me it’d probably be easier to just pay another $15. The software’s improved so much since then that it’d be worth it anyway.)

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I can theoretically get my game streaming setup working again (I gave up on it because I could never get the AVerMedia to work reliably and it would usually crap out about 10 minutes into my stream), since the non-splitter one plus the external splitter is perfect for this.

And then I can sell the AVerMedia on eBay or something, I guess? Wow, their going price is extremely random, everywhere from $50 to $100. And I suppose I’d then have an extra monitor I should sell too.

Anyway, then I decided to try actually doing a music stream while a bit weedy and it wasn’t a fun time. But I was already frustrated from this tangle of tech. Why I keep on throwing myself into this never-ending morass I’ll never understand.

Progress resumed?

So, just an update from my last bit on discontinuing my CPAP. I feel like I’m back to where I was before the CPAP started causing problems, and I’m also up to 30mg of nortriptyline and that’s feeling fine. I also heard back from the sleep clinic today and while the doctor still hasn’t had a chance to go over my sleep study (I guess she’s been out of the office for some reason) the clinician agreed that I should stay off CPAP for now if I’m feeling better without it.

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Studio inventory

While making my streaming setup writeup it took a lot of self-control to not write up an exhaustive list of all the music-making gear I have in my studio. But I was morbidly curious enough that I’ve decided to write it up anyway. So here is a shrine to my history of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (and, I guess, my lack of self-control).

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Feeling pretty darn great

So yeah the last um… two months have seen my fibromyalgia getting worse and worse, and my sleep getting worse and worse, and my pain getting worse and worse, and me just plain feeling like garbage and falling apart and constantly falling asleep throughout the day.

I still haven’t heard back from last week’s in-lab sleep study, but finally I decided enough was enough and two days ago stopped using my CPAP.

Two days ago I thought I might have to cancel all my weekend plans. Today, however, I felt absolutely fantastic, and did those plans and then some. And I still feel fine.

I am pretty sure the CPAP has been doing more harm than good, and I need to make the sleep doctor understand that while one metric (AHI) was going down, it’s only because the more important metric (amount of actual sleep managed) went down moreso.

Like, yeah, I wasn’t suffocating in my sleep, because I wasn’t sleeping.

Anyway. Tomorrow I will probably stream the iPhone battery replacement at, say, 2 PM PDT; if you want to see me possibly destroy the only phone I have which works properly, follow my twitch channel and “ring that bell,” as all the YouTubers say.

And I hope that with this newfound state of feeling pretty okay I’ll be able to start making music and comics (and therefore streaming!) more regularly again.

Medium tedium

Watts Martin writes:

There’s a lot of reasons people are down on Medium, Ev Williams' ongoing whatever-the-hell-it-is. It’s a platform! It’s a publication! It’s a platform for publications! It’s a clean, clutter-free reading experience, except for all the clutter!

There have been a few great stories written about this; my favorites are reporter Laura Hazard Owen’s “The long, complicated, and extremely frustrating history of Medium” and acerbic typographer Matthew Butterick’s “The Billionaire’s Typewriter.” (He occasionally updates this, most recently linking to Owen’s article.) Butterick critiques Medium’s design from an ethical standpoint, which turns out to be bang on point with Medium’s ultimate underlying problem:

Medium thinks it’s a brand.

The rest of the entry is very much worth reading, and is a great description of all the things I hate about Medium and why I wrote Publ and insist on hosting my own blog instead. And I’m sure is why there are so many other self-hosted blog engines available and getting stronger these days.

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Be a critter

Lately I’ve been having fun designing critter leggings. Today my plaid ones arrived and they came out really cute! I’ve tweaked the design a bit (probably hecking something up) but they’re really adorable and comfy and I highly recommend Threadless leggings.

I’ve also made a few other designs, such as this graphics joke (primarily the leggings and backpack) and I’m probably going to make a whole bunch of cute animal bottoms for folks to wear.

Any suggestions for favorite species to include would be quite welcome!

Also, if you visit Threadless via my referral link, you get a coupon for $10 off!

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iPhone grrrr

Okay, so, here’s the error which caused me to downgrade to my iPhone 6s:

The iPhone "Ruby" cannot be synced. There are too many open files currently.

This was only happening on the XR, though (not on my iPod Touch, iPod Classic, or either iPad), and my iPhone 6S was working just fine.

Today I was actually pretty pleased with using the iPhone 6S and generally liking it better than the XR for the reasons I thought I would – it’s smaller, lighter, less obtrusive, and frankly less annoying to deal with overall. So I decided I’d buy a new battery for it and try my hand at that, since it doesn’t seem all that hard after all (and all of the battery cases I could find had critical problems like being too big or heavy or having connector failure or catching on fire).

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iPhone Regress

So, a few months ago I upgraded to an iPhone XR, which I thought was pretty okay, but there’s been an accumulation of issues with it that have me back on my old iPhone 6S for a bit. I dunno if I’ll stick with this or what, but so far I’m liking the 6S tradeoffs better.

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Memories

Much has been written about how Electron apps take a lot of memory; after all, each one is running its own instance of a web browser, and pulling in all of the overwhelming amounts of support code that implies. Slack can easily end up taking over 1GB of RAM, and Discord usually takes a few hundred as well. As someone who used to use IRC back in the 90s, when a single task taking even 1 MB of RAM was considered a lot, this feels rather horrifying:

Activity Monitor showing memory usage for Slack and DiscordActivity Monitor showing memory usage for Slack and Discord

On my iMac, with 24GB of RAM, that means that chat apps – doing the equivalent of an IRC client (granted, with a bit more visual stuff, but not that much) – are taking about 6% of my RAM!

But come to think of it, back in the mid 90s, when a typical computer had 8MB, an IRC client probably took around 400KB of RAM, which is also 6%. So have things really grown proportionally in that way?

Well, I’ve figured out a way of getting these chat apps to take half as much of my total RAM overall, but first, let’s talk about my personal history of memory usage.

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Progress

It’s April 1, and nobody seems to have noticed the little joke I put on my site, or at least didn’t react to it. Which is fine, it was mostly a last-minute commentary on web UX patterns and so on.

(If you’re seeing this in the future, I added a GDPR compliance popover that prompts you with, “This website uses cookies to remember if you’ve clicked this button,” and a button which reads “I clicked it.”)

Anyway! It’s been a few days since my last post and I’m feeling somewhat better right now, so I’d might as well share what’s changed.

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Whatever happened to progress?

Ever since my diagnosis I was doing so much better, because I was able to practice self-kindness. But over time I’ve been slowly ramping up on doing more stuff, and now I’m back to trying to do all the things, and the amount of time I can do all the things gets shorter each iteration. So now I’m back to being in pain and being frustrated and feeling ineffective at everything.

I’m not sure if the medicine isn’t working after all or if I’m just expecting too much out of it; it’s probably a bit of both.

There are so many things I want to be working on but I’m just too tired to do any of them. I haven’t worked on music in a while – when I was so looking forward to getting back into streaming – and I’m coming up with things to do on Publ faster than I’m actually doing them, and am only really focusing on stuff that directly benefits the day job. And forget about comics, even though I really want to work on Lewi and a Unity Book 3 story.

I’m tired of being tired, and it’s useless to feel useless. I need to remember self-kindness.

More fun with encodings

On a Slack I’m on, there was a conversation wondering why so many websites disallow passwords with spaces, punctuation, “special” characters, and so on; shouldn’t they all be hashing the passwords rather than storing them in plain text anyway?

Yes, they should, but that’s not where the problem is. Once again, encodings become a problem.

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Backslide

So, whatever positive effect I’ve gotten from the nortriptyline isn’t enough to make up for my current baseline pain levels. At least I’m able to get out of bed again (unlike a week ago) but holy moly do I fall into agonizing pain after not doing a whole lot. This weekend I wasn’t even capable of doing my usual 3-to-5 miles of walking a day, and I’m thinking tomorrow I might end up having to take a bus or even a Lyft to work. Very frustrating.

Also, lately I’ve noticed that the extra weight of my iPad in my purse is taking its toll on me. I should probably switch back to using my backpack as my main conveyance; it’s heavier but at least it’s symmetrical and puts the stress on my back rather than my shoulder and neck.

On the plus side, I’ve finally gotten my CPAP working well enough for me. I ended up finding a decent video on how to adjust the nasal pillows and those have turned out to be much more comfortable, given a second chance. The face mask ends up being too disruptive for a bunch of reasons (the slightest movement makes it leak around the sides and I have no way of scratching my nose without hecking the fit up) and I somehow managed to lose the nasal mask (which was nearly as bad as the full mask anyway) so the fact that I’ve gotten the one I’m “supposed” to be using to work reliably and comfortably is nice.

I still feel like it disrupts my sleep somewhat, though. I hope that’s just a matter of something I Need to get used to. Hopefully I’ll eventually start getting reliable deep sleep on it once I’ve fully acclimated.

Anyway. Being up this late and typing a blog post isn’t exactly helping. But I figured an update was in order.

Encodings are the worst

These past few weeks I seem to keep on running into issues where things have been really bad about handling character encodings.

Back in the day, encodings were an absolute nightmare. You had different 8-bit encodings for every language, each with a bunch of different ISO standards; a very commonly-used one is ISO-8859-1, aka Latin-1, which is basically the characters needed to render all of English and most of several Romance languages (although a bunch of stuff is missing), plus a little extra stuff for math, scientific notation (µ), and German (ß), as well as a bunch of miscellani which were generally useful.

Unfortunately, a lot of Internet standards decided to default to that, including HTML.

Note: There are some updates based on feedback at the very bottom.

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Shout-out to Lending Club!

A couple weeks ago I started getting 2FA emails from Lending Club (an online peer-to-peer broker for loans and investments thereof). 2FA is of course a good thing, but less good is when the 2FA emails are addressed to my dead name, rather than my current, legal name.

So, I forwarded it along with a complaint about what was wrong, and fully expected to be brushed off like most companies do. However, they actually responded amazingly, with an explanation of the problem, an apology for it, and a commitment to fix it!

To all the other companies I’ve experienced this issue with: this is the right way to respond.

Thank you for your patience while I took a deeper look into your inquiry. Please know that I was able to find out the reason why the emails you are receiving use your previous name when your current name listed on your account is [current name].

When our engineering team set up the notification emails for our two factor authentication security feature, the source that they used to pull investor data from was the credit reports at the time of account creation, rather than the name listed on the account currently. I do apologize for this and please know that your case has been escalated to our engineering team in the hopes of fixing this issue.

Ongoing stuff

So, Friday I took a day off from my day job to go out to Quincy, WA to visit the Quincy Valley Historical Society and Museum, a farming museum which the AR startup is doing an app for. It was an interesting trip and I learned some stuff, although mostly we were there to guide the filming of greenscreen footage that’s going to be part of the app.

Quincy reminds me a lot of Las Cruces, where I spent a total of 8 years as a college and graduate student, only it’s even smaller and there’s no university.

Anyway, Friday night I didn’t sleep particularly well, then Saturday we drove back and after a brief nap I went to a local Twitch streamer meetup and met a bunch of people. Which was a good time and I made a bunch of contacts, but unfortunately the combination of that with the previous day meant I was already pretty much at my spoons limit.

Then Sunday, because of the dumpster fire that is Daylight Saving Time, all those dirty spoons got thrown into my garbage disposal.

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Places to follow my content

For folks who were following me on Patreon and don’t have an RSS reader, here are some alternate ways of following me:

  • All my stuff gets automatically posted to Twitter, Tumblr, and Mastodon, although that’s not ideal because updates are really easy to miss on those places
  • You can use IFTTT or Blogtrottr to get posts delivered by email (here’s a tutorial on IFTTT)
  • There’s also the #site-updates channel on my Discord (which is also a fun place to hang out anyway)

But of course your life is a lot easier in general by just using a feed reader like feedly, The Old Reader, or Newsblur. Or if you have your own web hosting that can run PHP, you might consider running your own private Feed on Feeds instance!

In which I finally stop using Patreon

So, hey, Patreon is a pretty popular site for funding the creative people you follow. A lot of people rely on Patreon as their primary source of income. More power to them if they do; it’s where everyone goes to do that sort of thing and it’s really enabled a lot of people to do what they love for a living.

But I just removed all my pledges and also my creator account. It’s not one thing in isolation that led me to do this, but a culmination of a lot of things (some big, some small) that had been frustrating and upsetting to me.

(Want to know where I’m accepting donations these days without reading a long missive? I’m on Ko-Fi for one-time donations and Liberapay for ongoing contributions.)

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Site updates!

So hey, Publ now has a tagging system, so I’ve updated my site to show tags in a lot of places. I’m not sure if I should make some sort of tag explorer view or if it’s okay to just pivot between tags within a category listing. Insight or ideas would be most welcome.

What I want to do at some point is tag all of my comics with subject matter and characters, but that seems like a lot of work. I wonder if there’s a way to outsource that to other folks which doesn’t involve opening up my git repo to the world. Maybe I’ll build a simple tool which lets people suggest tags for entries which don’t have tags. Iunno.

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Treatment progress

On the nortriptyline front, I’m up to 20mg/day and it’s feeling fine. It hasn’t solved my fibromyalgia forever (and after a day of typing and whatnot I’m still in pain, and my pressure points are still indicative of fibro) but it’s helping me a lot all the same. An unsurprising-but-nice thing is that it’s also vastly reduced my anxiety, which isn’t too surprising since that’s one of the on-label uses of this medication that I’m technically taking off-label. Does that count as a side-effect?

On the CPAP front, I’ve switched back to the nasal mask and it’s actually working pretty okay for me. I think the machine has finally learned to reduce its pressure because I’m a lot more comfortable throughout the night, although I still end up waking up at around 4 AM and taking it off so I can scratch my nose. Still, I’m generally feeling a lot more refreshed in the morning. I just need to get in the habit of putting it back on after I wake up and take care of the itching.

Also my cats have gotten used to it, which is nice.