Cool stuff

ConcernedApe’s Haunted Chocolatier — Early Gameplay [short video] – ConcernedApe, of Stardew Valley fame, is working on a game called Haunted Chocolatier, and that’s almost everything I need to know. Except – when can I preorder that?

Coding Font [interactive tool] – a tool to decide what’s one’s favorite coding font. Pretty cool – and I was very amused to see that, without having the font names, I landed on the JetBrains one; I’ve been using a JetBrains IDE for the past 7 years, so maybe there’s a link 🙂

Talk – Practical Pigment Mixing for Digital Painting [medium-length video] – reasons why blue and yellow don’t make green in digital painting tools (and yes, it’s more subtle than additive vs subtractive colors) and a way to fix that. Fascinating stuff.

GPS [text with interactive widgets] – a very neat explanation of the Global Positioning System, with a lot of super well-made interactive widgets. Superb presentation.

Smirkybec’s Twitch channel [long videos] – Smirkybec edits Wikipedia on Twitch, and I need more of that type of content on my internet.

Book Renovation [text] – N.K. Jemisin (who’s a fantastic author you should read) talks about her book revision process.

Quordle [web-based game] – what if, Wordle, but guessing 4 words at a time? It also have a couple more languages, including French.

Advanced Skills through Multiple Adversarial Motion Priors in Reinforcement Learning [short video] – because it’s a transformer humanoid quadruped robot with wheels, and it’s damn cool.

A short history of Sriracha [twitter thread] – and now I want some Sriracha.

Return to Monkey Island [short video] – I started this post with a videogame announcement, I’m finishing it with another….. but RON GILBERT IS MAKING A NEW MONKEY ISLAND. Look behind you, a three-headed monkey. Some more details here: Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman – Return to Monkey Island [text].

52Frames – 2022-15 – Extreme Close-Up

Close-up of color pencil - you can only see the gripping dots on a palette of pencils that go from pink to blue

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Extreme Close-Up”, explicitly not limited to macro. I went for the easy shot of opening a drawer, opening my color pencils case, and taking a picture of that; uninspired, yes, one more week, also yes. (Hoping to get more motivation for photography eventually some time soon!)

52Frames – 2022-14 – Nature

Close-up of a white thyme flower

The theme for last week’s 52Frames was “Nature”. The weather was good and I could have gone for a more “exotic” piece of nature, but I still have a week of walking with crutches, so… not! Thankfully, a plant of thyme decided to start growing between the slabs of my 5th floor balcony. And it currently has little flowers. So, there – you get a picture of my random balcony thyme plant 🙂

52Frames – 2022-13 – Emotion

Two wooden manikins on a grass surface, one of them is jumping happily towards the sky, the other is sitting, looking relaxed

The theme for this week’s 52Frame was “Emotion. My first idea was to get a selfie of myself being visibly annoyed at the plastic walking boot that’s enclosing my ankle for another two weeks while my fracture heals, but I decided to get my manikins to use instead. I took a picture in front of my green screen, and composited them on an older background (taken a few years ago on top of the Uetliberg). This is neither a good composite nor a good picture, but eh, it’ll do the job for this week 🙂

52Frames – 2022-12 – Long shutter

Light painting of a heart figure with several surimpressions

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Long shutter”, with an extra credit (which I claimed) for “Light Painting”. I must admit I didn’t give too much thought on the topic of my light painting – it needed to be recognizable and basic enough for my somewhat drawing-challenged self to be able to pull it off in not too much time and takes. A heart looked easy enough when paying a bit of attention, and indeed it worked out okay.

This is a composite of three images: one where I was drawing a heart with a red-filtered Lume cube and a green one in each hand; one where I inverted both cubes, and one where I didn’t have a filter – which I blended negatively in postprocessing (so that I got the cyan, blue and magenta showing there.)

It actually looks fairly decent for the low amount of effort I put in this picture 😉

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Present

A collage of various pictures taken around Zürich, over a blue and white background representing the city colors.

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

The final composition, “Present”, was something I had in mind all along during this Hunt – I wanted to have, as a final image, “a Scavenger view of Zürich”. I added a blue and white background to represent the colors of the city, and I added my pictures on top of it. I started working with Photoshop, and it was kind of hell, when suddenly I realized I wasn’t doing image processing, I was doing… layout. So I grabbed Publisher, and I was done in less time than I can count 😉 Obviously, there was a couple of “awkward” shots to place – the “Crack” one proved particularly annoying… until I realized it was abstract enough to be able to place it essentially anywhere. I setup the “bridge” image as a centerpiece of the composition, because that’s the most recognizable view of the city. While I didn’t keep with the usual aspect ratio of a postcard, this was mostly the aesthetics I wanted to reach – and I think I mostly managed.

All in all, during all of this Hunt, I wanted to show “my” city, which recently become much more than the city I live in – it’s also the city that accepted me as Swiss citizen at the end of last year, and it’s my “Heimatort” (place of origin) – I’m now, very officially, “from” Zürich, and this was something I wanted to celebrate 🙂

I also thought it’d be neat to have a map of the places where I took pictures: here’s the interactive map link, and here’s a screenshot of it for… posterity:

Map of Zürich with ten pins indicating picture locations
© OpenStreetMap contributors

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Present album.

52Frames – 2022-11 – An Activity

A red paraglider over Locarno, Lago Maggiore and the mountains.

I knew I was going away for the week, so I did consider doing my 52Frames on Monday… and then saw that the theme was quite compatible with being on holidays. We went on top of the Cimetta during said holidays, and were lucky enough to see some paragliding happening fairly close to us! As soon as I saw that, I knew I had my 52Frames shot locked – and indeed I did – this one is one of many shots I took around that time 🙂

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Music

Window of a music shop displaying vinyls; the reflection of the window shows the St.-Peter church.

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

My picture for “Music” is a mix of “found shots” and “I know where I’m getting that shot”. The Musik Hug shop was very much in my mind when I took my camera on a walk to get some shots; it also has a room with many Steinway pianos that I was hoping to capture. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a polarizing filter on that lens yet at that time, making my initial plan fail.

But I still turned around the building, and their collection of displayed vinyls caught my eye, mostly because it has one of my favorite albums on display! (Yes, that’s be the Queen one 😉 ). And when I realized that the St.-Peter church (and Europe’s largest church clock face!) was visible in the reflection… well, if you can’t beat’em join’em – it actually made me happy to get a better picture for my overarching “Zürich” theme than I would have gotten if I had gone with my first idea – it’s actually one of my favorite pictures for this round :). Here’s the initial picture:

Window of a music shop displaying vinyls; the reflection of the window shows the St.-Peter church.
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length18 mm
F-NumberF/3.6
Exposure time1/60s
ISO2000

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Music album.

Moar #balisebooks

Where The Drowned Girls Go – Seanan McGuire

What happens in… the other school?

This is the book 7 of the Wayward Children series, and I still love that universe to infinity and beyond. Besides Miss Eleonor’s Home for Wayward Children, there exists another school for the kids who crossed a door, came back, and are trying to re-adjust to Earth life. Contrarily to the Home, the Whitethorn Institute is trying to re-adjust kids by trying to make them forget their adventures, and making them believe they never happened. And Cora, who we met in the previous books, just transferred there – because she believes life will be more bearable there. But then, obviously, it’s complicated. And the headmaster is kind of shady. A good addition to the series, although I kind of regretted not spending more time in beyond-the-doors universes.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab

What if living forever came with the curse of being forgotten by everyone?

At the beginning of the 18th century, Addie makes a deal for her freedom from a marriage she doesn’t want. The terms of the deal und up being an… interesting curse – she gets to live for as long a time as she can bear… and in exchange, she gets forgotten by anyone as soon as they leave the room. We follow Addie’s life until the 21st century, a time where she finally meets someone who recognizes her. The novel is written in the perspective of all the events and lives that Addie has lived, in different times, and crossing the paths of many people, and some people many times. I really enjoyed the journey of this book and the reflection it triggered for me about life, time, creativity, relationships and personal impact on the world.

Hunt the Stars – Jessie Mihalik

What can POSSIBLY go wrong when you’re a bounty hunter hired by your sworn enemy?

Yay, a new series by Jessie Mihalik! (I still need to read Rogue Queen, but Consortium Rebellion was very cool 🙂 ). The narrator of the series, Octavia “Tavi” Zarola, is a bounty hunter and captain of a small crew, who was her team when she was fighting in the war. Torran Fletcher was a general on The Other Side Of The War That Just Ended – with the telepathic race of that corner of the universe. He’s also very good looking, apparently, and he has enough credits to hire Tavi’s crew and ship for a mission behind ex-enemy lines to recover unknown precious cargo. All in all, a pretty cool story, a nice slow-burn romance, and interesting considerations around telepathy and consent.

This book also made me realize that I really, really enjoyed what I’d call “descriptions of domesticity in a group of adults living together” – this is also a strong background for many of Becky Chambers’ books, and possibly why I appreciate some post-apocalyptic settings where the protagonists kind of have to stick together to survive.

Again, Rachel – Marian Keyes

Twenty years after Rachel’s Holidays, Rachel has it mostly figured out, until…

Marian Keyes is one of my “auto-buy” authors. I like her blend of light and tough topics, and the fact that I can chuckle one page and wipe a tear on the next chapter. The Walsh family is pretty familiar by now (it’s the 7th book in that setting), and we’re going back to Rachel’s story. Twenty years ago, Rachel was entering rehab, “not because she has a problem, see, but…”. At the start of this book, she’s clean, in love, working as a counselor in her ex-rehab center and gardening on her free time. Until one day she gets a phone call that pulls her down memory lane.

It was a tough book at times – there are stories about addiction, and about what can drive people to that, and without spoiling things too much, you may want to have a look at content warnings if some themes are hard for you. But as it was, it was exactly what I expected from Keyes, and I immensely enjoyed reconnecting with Rachel.

For the Love of April French – Penny Aimes

A kinky romance between a Black millionaire and a trans woman; it’s actually sweeter than it is kinky, and it’s significantly kinky. Not going to say much about this one, because I’m self-conscious, but I really enjoyed it (both characters are fantastic), so it felt wrong to not even mention it 🙂

For We Are Many – Dennis E. Taylor

More Bobs, more adventures, oh my!

In the first book of the Bobiverse, we met Bob, who by a series of accidents ends up becoming the brain of a Von Neumann probe fighting against a theocracy and exploring the galaxy where no one has gone before (well, unless the apparent gazillion of other extraterrestrial lives that seem to exist in the galaxy). In For We Are Many, we follow the continued adventures of all the Bobs who, in the meantime, have solved multiple problems such as FTL communication (useful) but sometimes struggle with their different self-imposed missions. This stays a very enjoyable story, with a special mention to the audiobook narrator, Ray Porter, who gives a pretty recognizable tone and cadence to all the Bobs and all the other characters – very impressive. I am, however, not convinced by his rendition of women voices – of which there are, however, not that many (not that it’s a good thing in general, but in that case… mixed blessing, I guess 🙂 ). It made me laugh out loud more than a few times, and I’m looking forward to the third book.