Letters from Somnolescent October 31, 2020

10/31 – The Somnolescent Incident

by bulb

As of writing this (at 11PM at night), another Halloween around here has come and gone. Indeed, we’re getting into that part of the year where the Somnolians want nothing more than to vibe. We’re well into holiday season, man! After this one, we’ve only got one more (likely beefy, just on my end, let alone everyone else’s…) recap before the big yearly one and a bit of a rest from us as a group. Gonna be lovely.

Still! Things happened this month, and that? Is what a recap is made of.

Candy Corn’s Halloween Gift Shop

Of course, Halloween means Caby’s annual limited edition Halloween subsite! This time, Candy Corn, that mysterious pumpkin-headed gentleman, has set up shop in a broom closet with seven boxes of goodies for you to discover. What could possibly be inside?

Candy Corn and his mystery Halloween boxes
Pick carefully.

If you’ve missed it thusfar, you better go quickly–remember, Candy Corn doesn’t take kindly to stragglers.

Arthur’s delusions

With the rifle’s barrel pointed half-heartedly through the posts on the banister, Arthur scanned the scene further. Everything had settled by then. Embers from the evening’s fire still glowed softly and silently in the fireplace. The stuffed ram head that watched over the room with wide, glassy eyes was only barely visible in the shadow of the mantle. His shelves of records were untouched. In the kitchen, things were stranger still; not a pane of glass cracked, smashed, shattered, or even missing. Nothing, not even a chair, was out of place out on the patio either.

I didn’t get the big Pennyverse Halloween story I wanted to out the door this year (least the fallout was less disastrous than 2019’s), but I still managed to write something involving everyone’s favorite perky prairie boy mailman, Arthur. I call it “Delusional”.

Sorta inspired by those freaky faces you see in dark rooms and sorta inspired by Penny’s infinite desire to torment this poor soul, if you ever wanted to see how a man who keeps a 19th century sporting rifle over his bed reacts when he feels threatened by things going bump outside, I’d say it’s worth a read.

Caby’s art…blog?

Caby's art blog's banner

Caby’s always maintained some kind of local art gallery on her sites, but the monthly static HTML one introduced mid-last year never quite worked as intended. Originally, it was 2000-era <table> layout junk making new pages a chore, and even after I cleaned it up and made it into an AutoSite template, the gremlins never went away. Cue it falling months behind.

So instead, Caby’s opted to do what everyone on our network does these days–use WordPress instead! And so, with an old, tweaked DeviantART green blog theme in tow, Caby’s art blog makes its debut to the world. She still hasn’t linked it on her site yet, but here’s the relevant RSS feed so you don’t miss a thing. …You do use an RSS reader, right?

Center for Data Redundancy

Caby thing, me thing, Caby thing…me thing! This was a real spur-of-the-moment type deal, and one I only just finished up recently. Savannah (fivewholeducks–and yes, she’s still around, even though she never comes to play with us online…) recently had a hard drive eat itself and lost a bunch of work in the process. borb also had something of a similar scare when a SATA cable fried itself inside her computer. (Thankfully, the drive survived.)

A variety of flash media
Here’s some of the formats I keep my stuff on. And yes, I will probably buy more memory cards at some point. Including CompactFlash cards.

Given that I’m utterly paranoid about data loss these days, and given that borb was lost on where to start keeping her stuff safe, I figured I’d write up an in-depth couple of pages on my site for creating a backup solution if you’re not some kind of tech wizard. It’s called the Center for Data Redundancy, and it takes you through taking stock of your data, why keeping as many copies of your stuff as possible is important, different backup media, costs, and pros and cons, and just how to keep on top of things.

It’s admittedly fairly dry stuff, but it’s important stuff! No one likes having their stuff lost, yeah?

No One Needs PNG Optimization

Normally, I’d throw this under a “blog highlights” section, but I was the only one who wrote anything on here this month! And given that it’s likely one of the longest posts I’ve ever written, I’d say it deserves its own section. Bring forth “The Clever Feat of PNG Optimization”.

A neat old PNG logo I found on the official PNG site
Gotta love this absurd, late 90s 3D PNG logo that is official, yes. It’s even transparent!

In short, I got really into researching how PNG (that magical lossless image format that we all use quite often around here) works, and how an optimizer program like PNGGauntlet can do what it does. It was quite the rabbit hole, and I certainly learned a lot. Whether or not you will depends how much reading about length-distance pairs and looking at charts of file sizes interests you.

If nothing else, I’m sure everyone can appreciate the gloriously old-school libpng site, (totally valid!) HTML 4.01 Transitional markup and all.

A screenshot of one of the pages on the libpng site
I mean, if this doesn’t blow your whistle, why are you even reading this blog? (And of course I optimized this PNG. Shrunk from 844KB to 498KB.)

Home stretch now, lads. I know I’ve got a bunch of things I’d like to get done before the winter chills us all (and I hear some of the other lads do too…), so stay tuned for that final monthly recap of 2020!

About bulb

Group posts, recaps, and things we all contributed to. Hopefully, our hum-to-English translation is intelligible enough.

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