Letters from Somnolescent


June 2, 2024

How to Host a Site Network for All Your Friends


So about a week ago, I got a very nice email from a Somnolescent reader named Cyrano. I don’t normally post reader mail–for starters, I don’t get enough of it to make mailbag posts a thing–but this time, I got a mailer daemon every time I tried to reply. There’s nothing personal in it, so I’m gonna take the risk and post things on the blog. Hopefully you see this, Cyrano, and you don’t think I simply ignored you. Your reply address isn’t working is all.

Somnolescent has a pretty unique setup as far as little amateur indie Web stuff goes. Everyone on somnolescent.net has their own account where only they can access their subdomains’ files, and potentially the files of domains outside somnolescent.net. Because I know Somnolescent attracts people who are in little online art collectives and Web groups and sometimes would like to know how to start their own site like ours, I’ve elected to lightly edit the book I wrote for Cyrano and post it here to Letters instead. Hopefully, someone finds the information useful.

April 1, 2024

3-9-7-1-5: Exploring the Expanded Conet Project Boxset


A badger with the expanded Conet Project boxset sprawled all around him

Spring is here, my friends, and that means you’re all probably starting to leave your houses for sunny pastures. I have a bit of paranoia for you to take out there–obscured messages also sent out into the world, ones no one but the people they were meant for have been able to or will ever be able to crack. Who are those people? What do the numbers mean? Who are the Russian Man, the Spanish Lady, the Lincolnshire Poacher, Bulgarian Betty? What is Ciocirlia, the Buzzer, the Tyrolean Music Station? What the fuck does “snudering” mean?

Let me take you on a journey of circumstantial government intrigue. I’ll let the boxset explain before I do, run-ons preserved:

Almost every other piece of information on who is responsible for Numbers Stations comes from the part-time investigations of dedicated listeners. No government or person will admit to transmitting them, and only recently, due to the release of this CD set has GCHQ in the UK made its first ever public station on Numbers Station, saying that, “GCHQ are aware of the existence of Numbers Stations but cannot comment on operational matters”. Do “operational matters” include the ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher’ which is believed to be of British origin? With direction finding equipment it is possible to track down the location of transmitting antennas, and in the case of Numbers Stations which uses extremely powerful transmitters ‘Dfing’ [sic] the more powerful stations has proved an easy task for investigators but what exactly does it mean when you find an antenna farm on US government property blasting numbers in Spanish? Where and who are the recipients?

Tags: music, technology,

February 19, 2024

Join the Somnolescent IRC!


#somnolescent on Rizon in MegaIRC

Long, long ago, in a timeline that seems completely absurd now, Somnolescent was merely an IRC room on Foonetic hosting four lonely people who didn’t like each other much. That was 2014. I still have the logs. (Please don’t ask to see them.)

Over time, lurkers and friends outside the group have asked us where they can chat with us, and the choice has either been to say “sorry, we don’t have a place you can chat with us”, or to start up a Discord we’ll wind up hating and shuttering in a few months. The answer always lay in IRC, of course, given that’s where Somnol started–but it never occurred to us. Except for that time in 2020 when it occurred to us.

Now that we’ve gotten the fuzzies for it again, we’ve once again established an official IRC room (on Rizon, given that Foonetic is sadly defunct). Join #somnolescent at irc.rizon.net, 6697 for secure connections and 6667 for insecure connections (among other ports). If that’s gibberish to you, you can click this Kiwi IRC link to join the server in your browser, no setup required. Hope to see you there!

Tags: technology,

February 6, 2024

SomnolCCSO and Reviving an Old, Dead Database Lookup Protocol


CCSO lookup in NCSA Mosaic

On a whim about two weeks ago, I decided to finally start redoing the Somnolescent Gopher server. Gopher is such a throwback, nostalgic thing for me–it was one of the first things we got set up for Somnol right when we first got hosting all the way back in December 2018. Alas, the Gopher had not been touched since 2021, outdated and rather embarrassing for me, so I ripped it all out and got it reassembled. Still working on it, but I think it’s coming out absolutely killer. You can visit it at gopher://gopher.somnolescent.net if you have a capable client, or you can use this HTTP proxy link if you’re just looking at it in your browser.

While Gopher is highly neat, among the culty hipster retro tech geeks, it’s a known quantity. There’s new Gopher clients every year, and Gemini clients oftentimes double as Gopher clients thanks to the similarities of their protocols. Not so with the true subject of today’s post. Today’s topic has no modern server software support (before us, anyway), and accessing it is even tougher, practically requiring Windows 3.1 or a *nix box with Docker and the whole setup around that. I’ve spent the last week doing a deep, deep dive into a protocol so obscure, there’s less than ten servers for it still in existence. And we’re one of them now.

Say hello to SomnolCCSO, my friends. I’ll tell you how we made it happen and how you can try it out for yourself.

December 29, 2023

Happy Five Years: Further Down the Artsy Rabbit Hole


Happy extra image that didn't make it into the proper post!

January 2024 marks two whole years of me taking art seriously. I read back through last year’s art retrospective, and I’m guessing it was partly that one year of progress isn’t a lot in all reality and partly that what progress I did make in 2022 was bumpy (as tends to happen when you start learning a new skill), but I was surprised at how tentative I sounded. I ended off that post with a big fat “pretty good for a first attempt ^^”, if you catch my drift:

It’s good to appreciate how far you’ve come though. In one year, from practically nothing, I’ve made some pretty damn good progress. I think by next year, I’ll have something really special.

Thankfully, if 2022 was the year of trying to draw anything at all, 2023 has been the year of learning to draw confidently. I used to get plagued by a feeling of every drawing being a fluke, that it was just because I had someone’s actual art off to the side while I drew that I made it look anything like what it was supposed to, but I don’t get that anymore. I actually really like what I draw now! It still looks amateurish in spots, but that’s starting to taper off, I think.

Not to say I don’t still have a long way to go, but for actually properly enjoying what I do and feeling confident in it, this year has been very good to me. I understand eyes and snoots now, for one thing… Let’s go back through some highlights of this year, like we did last year, and have a bit more positive to say this time around, shall we?

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