Categories
Computers Misc

Moving Forward

I’ve been using computers for 23 years. I’ve endured my fair share of Windows, dove head-first into macOS during the OS 9 to X transition, enjoyed my time using BeOS when it booted off of a floppy in less than 10 seconds. Currently, I’m firmly entrenched in the Linux ecosystem and very happy. Well, I was. I am, and I was. Here, let me explain.

Linux is Amazing

It really is. You can customize almost every aspect of it, and if you run out of ways you think you can customize it, you can learn how to code and make it the way you want it. You have absolute control over your own data and it’s usually pretty easy to move it between systems. This is because there is a focus on interoperability, openness and ensuring that users are put front and center.

This Awesomeness is Expensive

…by that, I mean expensive time-wise. You can setup all your own services, own all your own data and secure it all in a manner of your choosing. This is great, but it means that it’s on you to make sure this is setup right, that the services all run harmoniously, and the data is well secured against casual and somewhat determined attackers. It also assumes you have the knowledge and time to do so.

When I was younger, this wasn’t a problem. I had time, energy and the ability to handle all of these tasks with ease. Even if it meant that I was up until late getting things done, or spending time during work troubleshooting a server or service. All of this endless customization, optimization and learning was incredible. I still enjoy it to a point. The problem is…

I Don’t Have Time Anymore

I’m almost to mid-life. This is a stark realization that, statistically speaking, I have 40-ish years left in my life. While that is a lot, I also want to spend less of it dicking with stuff that should be a solved problem. Sure, I could spend a small fortune on VPS or dedicated/managed hosting solutions, but I honestly don’t want to even deal with that. Ideally I’d like to just turn it on, adjust some simple knobs and get working.

Where Are You Going With This?

I think going forward I’m going to start backing out of computing as a serious task. I love my PCs and Linux and Open Source, and I’ll continue to support them financially, ideologically — but I’m pretty much done worrying about using it. That means as I migrate toward solutions that don’t require so much headspace, I’m not going to worry if the solution is proprietary or Open Source. I’d love for it all to be F/OSS, but that’s not going to be a make or break point.

Ideally, I’d like to move to an iPad with a keyboard (maybe not even that…) and have storage on iCloud or similar. Apple’s ecosystem is private, secure and incredibly well integrated with itself. I already have an iPhone, so it’s familiar and something I already buy into. As for my other services that I connect to, I think I’ll migrate this blog to WordPress.com or a more managed system. I still like writing here. It’s cathartic.

Categories
Awesome

Picard Release Date!

2020-01-22 – Hot Damn!

Star Trek: Picard has a release date! Ahhhhh! I cannot wait!

Categories
Games

DDLC

Warning: The game I’m about to talk about is not for minors, people who aren’t up for handling intense themes or really bothered by suicide and self-harm.


Doki-Doki Literature Club (henceforth “DDLC”) is a “visual novel” game that appears, at first, to be another game following the “Dating Sim” trope. Released in 2017, it has been a cult hit and free-to-play. That all being said: It is not a dating sim game, it’s cleverly packaged computer/horror.

Suffice it to say, if you’re not into it, you can read a summary of the game and the various acts it goes through on this wiki, or watch any of the playthroughs on YouTube. Honestly, you’re not missing much “gameplay” by doing so. I will be discussing spoiler like material, so if you want to play blind, read no further. Otherwise, it’s a almost three-year old game, get over it.

One of the biggest shocks, and painful moments of the game (and there are many) is the death of Sayori. While I’m sure not everyone who plays the game is sympathetic to every character, I identified with her especially.

You see, Sayori is depressed. Deeply so. She hides it behind a carefully designed mask of cheerful aloofness. This throws people off, even if she lets the mask slip (on purpose, or by accident). Her behavior of sleeping in, clumsiness and desire for others to be happy is a really clever cover and one that I identify with. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to see through it. As the kids say: Game recognizes game.

DDLC even goes so far as to drag you into a false sense of relief as you “end” her segment of the game, making you believe that, while not better, things are on the up-and-up. Only to throw it back in your face. I know I was warned. Still, I felt it.

Obviously the game begins to slide right off the rails into surreal horror/computer spookiness, subtexted by realistic people issues. The Yuri character enjoys self harm, which is something people suffer with every day. Natsuki is the child of abuse and neglect and offers up a tough front because of it. All of these characters are sympathetic and probably why the game is so popular. Additionally, the developer did some neat behind the scenes stuff with files in the game directory.

Overall, I really enjoyed the relatively short play through. It’s packaged as a type of game that I’d normally avoid, on principal, but recommendations and mild spoilers directed me otherwise. If you’re not bothered by some of the material in the game, then you’re in for a treat. It’s got more depth than it has any right to, and delivers real emotional stuff in a genre rife with the direct opposite.

The best part is that the game is free to download and play. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux and if you’re so inclined, the developer has some extra special stuff in the $10 DLC.

Categories
Games

Humble Bundle

A long time ago, I used to be a Mac guy. Because of that, I participated in several app bundle stores in order to get great deals on the (relatively) expensive Mac apps. All of these discount stories have gone the way of the Dodo. I even still have some licenses hanging around that reference them.

It seemed like these sort of discount stores were a thing of the past, and for many years that was the case. Until Humble Bundle showed up and started giving great discounts on collections of games. At first they were just indie titles. The shtick was that in addition to the games, you could gift part (or all) of the sale to the charity that was being represented, and that these games would be DRM-free, allowing you to play them whenever and wherever you could get them to run.

Eventually, they expanded to include digital books, comic books, desktop applications, mobile games, and more. Additionally, they now operate a proper storefront and host a monthly quasi-mystery box program where you get a collection of games for a small monthly fee of $12.

While the DRM thing didn’t quite last, they were soon purchased by publishing giant IGN, which cooled a lot of their public goodwill. Soon, though, people forgot about it, as Humble Bundle was being run as a subsidiary and generally untouched by their parent organization.

It’s nice to see a model for discounted and bundled offerings that doesn’t undercut their users by offering them low-value shovelware or being predatory with offers and upsells. The price is the price and you can adjust how much of each component goes where. This honest transparency is nice to see and goes a long way in making sure customers feel comfortable paying.

I’ll continue using their service as long as they keep up-front about their deals, give great options and provide great customer service. Not an easy act to balance, but one that keeps me coming back to check out whatever it is they’re selling.

Categories
Misc

The Machine that Turns Ideas into Real Things

Over the last 28 years, Stephen Wolfram has led his partially-distributed company from his home in Massachusetts. Over that time he’s developed countless productivity tools and collaborative processes that help Wolfram Research create world-changing tech.

The Machine that Turns Ideas into Real Things — Distributed.blog