I’m mildly grumpy. My weeknotes will show it.
Grumpy weeknotes also turn out to be the longest weeknotes yet. Eh, skip to the sections that you’re interested in and ignore the ones you don’t care about — that is what the separator lines are for after all!
By popular request, here is the Gremlins section of the weeknotes, in which I detail how technology has randomly failed me this week. For context, Gremlins is a negative quality in the Shadowrun tabletop RPG:
Characters with the Gremlins quality never seem to get along with technology. Devices malfunction inexplicably in the character’s hands, software constantly crashes whenever [they] uses it […]. Note that Gremlins is a Negative quality — its effects should be hindering to the character (and entertaining to others). […]
Ahhh! You, dear reader, must be here for the “entertaining to others” bit.
Not in Berlin anymore: I grabbed my bike and cycled to Daily Warteg, my favorite Indonesian takeaway place, and found it closed. (I suspect they forgot about the daylight saving time change.) I opened the Google Maps app to find takeaway places in the area, but it showed me only takeaway places in Manhattan, New York. Too far to cycle to, not to mention the risky business of cycling long-distance on the vast ocean floor of the Atlantic.
I turned around, went back home and had second breakfast instead. I didn’t have the energy to prepare lunch, or even figure out what the heck was going wrong with Google Maps. It was rather sad.
Missing illustrations: I lost the Affinity Designer source files for my illustrations for the Ruby equality article. They’re not on my hard drive, and not on Time Machine nor on my Arq backups. I’ve got hourly backups on four different locations and I have no idea how these files could have vanished into thin air.
Luckily, Affinity Designer can open SVGs, which is a bit finicky but at least I was able to continue from there. From now on, I’m definitely adding my Affinity Designer source files to the Git repository.
What’s that? GitHub is down again?
Moving off Google Workspace remains problematic. All the stuff I’ve created over the years cannot be moved to my new Google account. If I try, I get this error messages:
Sorry, cannot transfer ownership to [redacted Google account email address]. Ownership can only be transferred to another user in the same organization as the current owner.
The deadline for selecting a new plan (and starting to pay for it) is May 1st, less than a month away. There is still no way of moving my documents to a new account.
This is shit. Perhaps the cloud was a mistake.
One web app I use for work uses the same blue checkmark item to mean both “you have completed this item” and “you have added this item to your to-do list”. I looked at my to-do list, saw all the blue checkmarks and thought hooray I am done when, in fact, I had literally not achieved anything at all.
(Unfortunately, now that I’ve written this down in my weeknotes, I can no longer claim I didn’t know.)
YouTube ads are getting wild. I did not expect an ad with a young lady looking sensually into the camera with a vibrator in the background. It is borderline porn.
I am, however, satisfied that Google/YouTube knows so very little about me that they think this ad could be remotely relevant.
Why do we work so much? I feel that 40 hours per week (8 hours a day, 5 days a week) is a lot.
I’m aware that the working hours used to be much worse and that there has been considerable social progress in reducing the working hours to 40/week.
However, before the industrial revolution, people worked less. How come mechanization and automation have not decreased the number of working hours?
The only answer I can come up with is that we work to enrich the lives of others (capitalists)? It is rarely in their interest to reduce working hours.
In entertainment news, I would now like to share my grumpiness about things that are designed to be fun. For starters, these two game level design pet peeves I have:
Large open rooms can sure look pretty, but they will have terrible acoustics. This is especially true for rooms where the walls are primarily windows — hard surfaces that reflect the sound waves and create disastrous amounts of reverb. These rooms would turn a normal conversation into a serious challenge.
Rooms with indoor water features also sure look pretty, but they’d drive the humidity through the roof. I cannot imagine the amount of mold these rooms would have. Eww!
I’m replaying Half Life 1 (or rather, the Black Mesa remake) and not having as much fun with it as I thought. There’s the occasional savegame corruption which forces me load older saves and replay through sections. But more importantly, Half Life 1’s gameplay got translated fairly directly into the Black Mesa remake — it’s not a reboot but a faithful reimagining — and some of the gameplay feels dated. I hated the timed run-and-jump puzzles in Half Life 1, and the Black Mesa remake has them too.
I feel that Black Mesa is a lot more survival horror than Half Life 1. This might be my biased view, or it might be an effect of the engine upgrade. Better (and more dramatic) lighting and higher-quality models and textures means that everything looks more realistic, and more realistically gruesome. This is in line with Half Life: Alyx (which I haven’t played but seen a let’s-play video of), which quite fits in the survival horror genre.
Having replayed Portal 2 a while back and now Half Life 1, I can tell that the universes of Portal and Half Life are thematically quite distinct:
Half Life’s universe is dark, gritty, gloomy. It has war, oppression, resistance in it.
Portal’s universe is surrealistic and does not take itself seriously. There’s this random dude gets rich selling shower curtain to the military, and uses that vast money to hire scientists to just Do Science™ and accidentally invent amazing portal technology. It’s also creepily cheery (e.g. sentient robots and AIs with happy voices).
These two universes couldn’t be more different, which is why it is so strange to me that they are the same universe. Maybe that thematic chasm was one of the struggles to get Half Life Episode 3 ready?
Here are some links to noteworthy articles and videos:
Vaccines and Autism: A Measured Response (hbomberguy): I finally watched this and it’s good — I learned a lot about the anti-vax movement. Also entertaining in good old hbomberguy style.
Why Left 4 Dead is the Ultimate Social Game (Leadhead): Agreed. I played Left 4 Dead (and Left 4 Dead 2) a lot with real-life friends back when I lived in Belgium, and that was a ton of fun, but also made us grow closer as a group of friends. (One thing Leadhead did not mention is the excellent AI Director, which gives less-experienced teammates a less challenging experience, so that everyone has a good time and nobody is left out.)
Portal 2 - The Moron Theory (Leadhead): As I mentioned above where I talked about Portal 2, this game is thematically quite distinct. Leadhead sets out a theory that there is not a single smart character in the entire Portal 2 universe, and I find myself agreeing.
Half-Life 2 Beta - Everything You Need To Know! (Neon Nova): Ooh, I was not aware of Half Life 2’s development story. Strange and interesting how that game evolved.
The Fifth Element (1997) vs A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) (Movies with Mikey): I re-watched The Fifth Element a few weeks back and I’m surprised at how well it held up.