August 16, 2017


I watched this Youtube video, and it ate my evening!

I like to think that I enjoy going into new media blind. The less I know, the more open I will be to see what the film or game or book is about in itself, free from the perceptions of others. Makes sense, right?

Still, there are times when a good introduction makes all the difference in the world.

A friend told me of Warframe the other day, a free to play action and loot collection game which sounded very well made and totally outside of my area of interest. I do not want my games built to try and get me to spend money to progress. I am not appealed by games built around grinding and progress with no clear goal. I am all about focused experiences with good stories. Right?

Then my friend sent me this video, presenting itself as a review of the game as it stands in 2017. Warframe has been out for a copule of years and constantly updated, so the point in time is relevant.

I sat down to watch, and I think it is one of the best reviews I have ever seen. The reason is that it took a game and even game type I am reflexively very hesitant about, explained what said game is all about, how you can think about it and made me see that I could probably find a lot of entertainment in it. In short: it was an introduction which might as well have been custom-made for me.

After watching I downloaded the game (watching the progress bar very patiently) and happily sank most of the rest of the evening demolishing hordes of enemies and collecting loot in procedurally generated levels, accompanied by total strangers.

Funny how evenings go sometimes.

August 15, 2017

App size silliness

Yesterday, I wanted to resize an image on my phone. I had just been assigned custom emoji responsibility for a Slack. Such responsibilites one does not delay.

That part of the story had a sad ending in that I found no app up to the task. In the short time spent, the solution was that I posted enough in said Slack that someone else offered to resize the image for me.

However, the quick searching I did do led me to install and breifly play with Photoshop express. It may be called express, but it is in every way a serious app for performing complex editing tasks. I also noticed that it downloaded pretty quickly on my 4G connection, which in turn led me to think about app sizes once again.

A quick digression: for app size here I chose the size listed in IOS' usage section of the preferences, the size you see when you tap on an app and get to see both its "own size" as well as the size of its "documents and data". I was about to use the sizes in the app store, but noticed they differed rather sharply depending on where you looked. Specifically, the sizes given in your list of app updates are much larger than the ones you see if you tap into the details of a given app. The sizes IOS preferences give should be the space actually occupied by each app on disk, and thus a pretty honest size for comparisons.

I made a little list:

Procreate is an embarrassingly (for its price) full-featured drawing app, a tool one can do serious work in. Photoshop express too, when it comes to retouching and the like. Instagram's job is to display a list of images posted by a list of people. How the app for this can eat up more than 75 megabytes of space is beyond me. I suppose they could … include 4K video demonstrating features or something? Fortunately for Instagram, it pales in comparison to the outrageous demands of Facebook's two flagship apps. I installed both of them fresh just to check the sizes. I have had Messenger installed on and off, but I recently deleted it for now because no app I use for sending text and images deserves to eat up this much space, plus the bandwidth it consumes for its weekly updates. I have not used the "main" Facebook in years, partly because it often seemed worse than the web version feature-wise, partly because of its demands, partly because of the stories of it simply being a horrible app citizen, and partly because I have no need to waste more time on Facebook than I already do.

Facebook writes a lot of cool code. I am sure a lot of the code in their apps is really neat, and really useful for someone. But come on, even if all this space is actually for user-facing features (I suspect most of it is a grotesque stack of dependencies by and for developers) there is no way any user is able to make use of all of it. We used to talk about how everyone only used 5% of the features of Microsoft office, but everyone used a different 5% and so it was extremely hard to remove any part of it. But Office is a tool to get serious work done, it is worth serious money and people pay for their 5%. Facebook is a way to communicate with friends and a way to gather obscene amounts of data about this communication. The first part is the one I want, and Tweetbot does that part in less than 1/28th of the space.

I am completely aware of how things may have got here and why. Storage and bandwitdh are always getting cheaper, everyone wants new features, and everyone wants to move forward as fast as possible. Caring less about bandwitdh and space and building things on top of existing things are ways to try and get more things done. Completely fair, just be able to justify the tradeoff to the user. For me, these kind of numbers for apps which, at best, provide pleasant distractions are simply not worth it.

In a way, it is good that Facebook's apps are like this. It keeps them off of my phone, makes it a little easier for me to avoid putting even more resources into their sinkholes. Timesinks which collect my data and show me ads have no right to eat a third of a gigabyte of space on my phone. (And let us not get into how they really, really want to access everything and push notifications to me at every turn.)

Just to wrap up, here is the on-disk size of a full-featured image editor for Macos:

It also made that editing task the story started with fun.

August 12, 2017

Missing the goal

Forgive me website, for I have sinned.

In the meaning of missing the mark, I just sinned while I was out running. I missed a small but simple and clear opportunity at nudging the world in an ever so slightly better direction.

I was out in the woods, catching up to an older man. I imagine him being somewhat older than my father, his grey hair and posture making me imagine him being someone's young and energetic grandfather, just the kind of active person I hope to be at that age.

As I was approaching, this man reached a younger man out mountainbiking with his kid. They had stopped, and the older man reached the two just as the younger man was turning his bike. The bike just happened to be across most of the track as the older man reached them, and he reacted by slowing down, raising his arms in frustration and saying something I could not hear as he passed them. In response the man on the bike looked back and responded (voice raised but not shouting, more frustrated than angry) "aren't you allowed to make a mistake in this country?" To which the old man responded, without turning or stopping: "No."

I passed him a few seconds later and unfortunately could not think of more to do in the moment than glare angrily at the back of his neck. That might have been a good thing, as most of the first responses which came to mind in the following minutes were rather … pointed.

I wish I had the presence of mind to simply ask "was that really necessary?" Just a calm question, no unnecessary (but oh so tempting) irony or outright meanness.

Mistakes bring us forward!

August 12, 2017

Back in time

One luxury of our modern lifestyle is to be able to go back home at age 37 and feel that little has changed. In reality, plenty has changed and keeps on changing, but not enough to break the feeling. I find it almost silly how much visiting my parents for a couple of days makes me unwind. The last line of imaginary "shoulds" melt away, leaving me that much more relaxed and present than the previous holiday weeks.

Surely I should be able to relax in the same way in my own home?

Perhaps that is the next step in personal growth?

It seems natural that the challenge is a bit greater when at home, just because there are so many day-to-day activities associated with being home, but that just brings even more benefit to succeeding. I did well in not rushing out of bed this morning, but I have put some amount of things on my want-to-do-list for the day. Most of them are already completed though, so points again there.

Keep a mild groove on.

August 06, 2017

Cottage drawing Cottage drawing