bjoreman.com

September 21, 2018

Friday evening

Writing regularly

and reading what you write every now and then

can be pretty good for memory and perspective.

I sat down, deeply clicky keyboard on my lap, to write this, took a look at my last post here and realized that it was three whole weeks ago. Three weeks ago I was starting to feel settled in in this apartment. Now, a blink of an eye later it feels both like we have come so much farther, and made a lot less progress at the same time.

Mostly, I land on the side of a lot having happened.

There are lights, Hue and not.

There are so many fewer boxes.

A larger amount of major furniture than I expected has been bought or at least seriously investigated.

What remains is starting to feel like regular living in a place: there are always nice to haves, things which could be improved with the right idea or the right amount of rainy days to put into it. On the whole though, those things do not get in the way of day to day life.

Well, except those boxes of kitchen stuff we can not yet unpack.

I guess some pictures and paintings should go up at some point too.

That piece of furniture will be sold some day.

Oh, and those shelves are just full of things we threw up to get started. They could be sorted through and made so much nicer.

One day.

One day, but not today. Okay, tonight.

Tonight I click the keyboard, listen to the wind outside, drink some bubbles and think about podcasting.

For example, Merlin Mann mentioned on some show how early he was on Macbreak weekly. So now, for some reason, I am listening to episode three. From August 31st, 2006.

I am unsure when I first listened to a podcast, but there is something fascinating about listening to talk about really old Apple news in a format I associate with many years later.

It is made more surreal by some of the voices being the same ones I regularly listen to nowadays. Did they travel back in time, pick up some older microphones and slower connections and just sat down to talk?

August 30, 2018

Thud

It has been an intense week. With less than 24 hours left of it, I feel completely happy and ready to sit down and relax.

What did I do? We moved.

It all started Friday afternoon. New keys in hand, we had a big moving car booked for 24 hours Saturday to Sunday, and arranged to borrow a smaller car for the evening just to get started with a few boxes.

After arriving at that car and finding its battery dead, we decided to head over to the rental station and see if we could get something just for the evening. We got there, talked to them and mentioned we had a reservation for Saturday to Sunday. The person behind the counter pointed and clicked for a while, took our details a few times, then stated that in fact no, there was no reservation. Great. A few minutes passed while we discussed getting something, what might be available and for how long. All the while, the person kept pointing and clicking. Only then did the person notice that there was a reservation in our name, but for the wrong 24 hours. It had been entered as Friday to Saturday, but they were happy to let us start our 24 hours right now instead. (We later asked ourselves if nobody thought to get in touch when we did not show up until hours after they thought our reservation was starting.) Great, we finally had our big, burly car and spent the evening running up and down stairs, emptying storage rooms and then carrying stuff up to the new apartment as the sun set. It felt increasingly strange to be running around carrying boxes, vacuum cleaners and other less well-packed stuff on a city street as it got darker. The last little while, I also started worrying we were annoying neighbors. In any case, all went well but energy was clearly draining, and as we headed home and for bed we felt more drained than eager to dive into Saturday’s work. This had been the smaller part, Saturday not only meant a lot more things, but a lot more large, heavy and unweildy things.

Happily sunlight, an extra pair of hands and legs and a little bit of accumulated experience from the day before made all the difference. Spirits were high, progress felt much faster and suddenly we were handing back the car having moved everything we hoped for and just a little bit more. I was aching pretty much everywhere and we were living in boxes upon boxes, but we were super happy that we went for getting everything moved on Saturday and actually had Sunday to settle down just a little bit.

Not that I am super good at just ignoring boxes. Things to unpack, position and generally take care of provide, I think, too much of a sense of progress and easy wins. I happened to be home alone the whole work week, and I have had to tear myself from unpacking to do other things. There is always one more box which could be emptied and put away, one more piece of furniture which could find its place, or even just a box which could be moved to a better room for unpacking.

Tonight, I reached the final milestone as I took delivery of our new sofa. All 111 kilograms in two pieces, wrapped in tremendous amounts of plastic. I was not sure I would be able to put it together by myself, so the satisfaction was even greater when it turned out I did.

I was not only satisfied, but surprisingly sweaty, surrounded by a mountain of packing material, and in real need of some grocery shopping and dinner. Only a couple of hours later, all these tasks taken care of, did it occur to me that I had not yet even tried to sit down on the sofa.

Now I am, and I feel ready for the weekend and the rest of the family to return home.

Nästa mål: få undan alla packningar, dammsug och moppa överallt. Få med en mopp hit.

August 15, 2018

Dear Esther

Dear Esther, I first played through you tonight. I was sitting on the floor in front of a large TV. I was wearing headphones, and I was alone in an apartment halfway packed to be moved out of. Lights were low, the evening gradually darkening. I kept the balcony door open and some windows just a smidge, letting the cool evening air breeze through as I walked the island.

What a perfect experience.

August 09, 2018

More pixels

I sometimes use Safari tabs as reminders or to-do items even though I try to refrain from it. A recent episode of Accidental tech podcast left me with a tab for Mac utility Eye-friendly floating around my various devices, settling on my Macbook for a couple of days until I got myself together and did the reasonable thing: purchased Eye-friendly and closed the tab.

Paying $5 to close a tab might sound expensive, but paying $5 to support some software and try fun things is not.

So, what did I get to try?

Eye-friendly is one of a category of Mac apps which provide quicker and more flexible resolution switching options for (especially) Macs with retina screens. Eye-friendly provides a menu item for switching resolutions, and also keyboard shortcuts for increasing and decreasing the resultion.

So far so good. People use it to step a notch up and down instead of making the trip to system preferences. But what intrigued me was the more outrageous possibilities. You see, where Apple only provides four resolution options for my Macbook, Eye-friendly gives me nine.

Including the option to run the screen as a non-retina 2304 times 1440 pixels.

Too many pixels for twelve inches? Too many pixels for twelve inches?

I have tried this before on a work machine and fully expected it to be completely useless. To my surprise, I found myself actually using this mode for a while. I like to have all the width I can get for editing in Hindenburg, and then there was tons of space to have a browser and the show notes side by side. Text in Sublime remained somewhat readable, and for finding episode links I really do not need all that much readability in Safari. I ended up editing the whole episode in ludicrous mode and was as suprised as anyone.

I definitely enjoy sane resolutions a lot more when it comes to general reading and writing, but it truly is both amazing and actually useful to have the full screen resolution available sometimes. Now I have the space of my 27-inch external monitor available right on my laptop when I need it.

It feels a little like a secret super power.

(One thing I am curious about: the highest resolution Eye-friendly provides is actually somewhat higher than native. It works just like any other, but it is of course very small, and I wonder why it shows up. Perhaps it is the one the machine renders to before scaling down for other retina resolutions?)

July 24, 2018

So let us melt and mobile VR

So let us melt is a beautiful little story and experience for mobile VR. It takes a comfortable two hours to play and I would recommend it to anyone with a grasp of English and a head large enough to wear a compatible headset comfortably.

At the same time, playing the game strongly underlined for me just how far mobile VR - in the shape of Daydream and Gear VR - has to go, even when compared to just the more specialized VR experiences - in the shape of Playstation VR - available today.

To be clear, this is just as it should be. A dedicated headset connected to stationary hardware better be a significant step up from something you slot a mobile phone into. But now that it has sunk in for me, I am not sure I want to play anything on mobile VR that I can get on a stationary platform.

In essence: it is death by a thousand cuts, and the one advantage of being able to use VR in any location is still more than offset by all the little problems and rough edges. Even getting into experiences can be a tedious exercise as things crash, setup procedures are repeated and buttons accidentaly pressed as I slot the phone into the headset.

Once inside, I feel less immersed and controls are less precise. It dawned on me that both things are connected to the lack of external points to track. The Playstation VR uses the Playstation camera to track the position of the headset and controller, which makes it possible to move your controllers around in the environment, and for you to lean in, turn and so on. With mobile VR of today, I am firmly stuck like a camera on a tripod, and drift in both head tracking and controller position is such a problem that the re-centering button needs to be front and center on the controller. Without it, most experiences would actually be unplayable.

Then, I play for a while and start to feel the heat. Oh yeah, everything is powered by that slab of phone centimetres from my face. It can try to clock down, slowing things down in the process, but it quickly and easily gets uncomfortably hot. The less comfortable headsets start to wear on my forehead. I also can not wear my glasses underneath them, but I am unsure whether the additional … hardware blurring … makes things look better or worse.

In all, the coolest thing about mobile VR right now is that it exists and can be played around with. It is a darn marvel what our phones can do already. But I long for the comfort, immersion and controls of the Playstation VR every single time.

The next mobile VR game for me? Virtual virtual reality!