Letters from Somnolescent

 

November 30, 2020

11/30 – The Bulb’s Last Stand (of 2020!)

bulb

We’re getting real close to the end of 2020 here, lads, and suffice it to say, Somnolescent is going out with a bang. I mean, what don’t we have to show off? New sites, another story, things brewing for ages finally released, infrastructural improvements, blog posts! It’s a goddamn clearinghouse of material–that I will now recap for your pleasure.


November 21, 2020

Yerf, yerf, yerf

caby

I post once in a blue moon, but I finally have a new thing to talk about, so here I am! That thing is a little old art portal named Yerf.

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October 31, 2020

10/31 – The Somnolescent Incident

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.


October 27, 2020

The Clever Feat of PNG Optimization

mariteaux

A neat old PNG logo I found on the official PNG site

I’ve become mildly obsessed with how compression algorithms of various stripes work over the past year. They really do make every bit of our modern computing existence work so smoothly, from gzipping packet data to speed up slow connections to storing vast archives of high quality music on flash drives the size of a ChapStick. Some simply rearrange the data in clever ways, and others take advantage of our weak eyes and ears to throw out 90% of what was once there–and we hardly notice.

Of the lot, the humble PNG is so ubiquitous, it might not even warrant mentioning. Every format has some magic up its sleeve, however, and in the case of PNG, the way they’re encoded usually makes it possible to shrink them after the fact to the tune of up to a few megabytes with no loss in quality. If you make sites, you might wanna take notes.

I recently decided to run a battery of tests to determine just how well PNG works, on what, and what optimizes the best. I’ll give you the rundown on how it works (in-depth but no math, no worries), and then I’ll give you some hard data and lovely charts to peek at, and finally, show you how to get smaller, lighter PNGs at home, no tricks, no catches.

Tags: art, technology,

October 2, 2020

10/2 – The Ballad of the Comeback Kids

bulb

This is a little more like it! With the weather cooling down (not here though, still 60s and 70s galore, guh), the Somnolians have been feeling vital again. borb and Caby are over their Art Fight fatigue, I’m back to writing after building that absurdly big Quake level (promise you’ll get to play it this year) and feeling damn good about it, and–what do you know? More Pennyverse! Much better recap than last month–let’s get into it.


September 24, 2020

Ranking Spotify’s Top 50 Songs Named “Undone”

mariteaux

Song titles are funny. They’re usually hardly unique, and tons of bands from all across the music spectrum have songs with the exact same title. Spotify’s search is an absolutely useless landfill for this stuff; the song you want will invariably be so unpopular that 200 other identically-titled songs (and in some cases, artists and albums) will come before the one you want. Lovely.

The inspiration for this one came about when I realized I actually know three different songs with the title “Undone”: the Failure song, the Weezer song, and the Josh Joplin song. When I checked through Spotify search, it turned out to be a very popular song name indeed.

So in short, I got curious enough to add the 50 most popular ones to a playlist, listen through, and rank them. I originally wanted to do every single song on the platform named “Undone”, but that’s just not feasible. Even the top 50 was a solid three hours worth of music, and has been hell to put together.

Alas, the Joplin track didn’t make the top 50; if it did, it would’ve probably ranked at #2. Nonetheless, we’ve got a lovely mix of yeehaw music, white girl piano pop, boppy electronica, acoustic torment, Backstreet Boys, and even a few artists who might not even exist. We’re starting at the bottom here, so apologies for the rampant negativity at first. It does get better. Here we go…

Tags: music,

September 6, 2020

The Raven LTE flies again

dotcomboom

A couple of years ago, I used an Alcatel Raven LTE as my main phone. It was a very cheap phone ($30 new, albeit locked to my carrier TracFone), ran Android 7 Nougat, and had an impressive 16 gigabytes of storage and 2 gigabytes of RAM; it was no slouch for the price. One day, the hard classroom floor almost got the best of it.

Even after the screen got cracked, it still worked, even touch; the trouble only came from what in the world to do with a cracked $30 Android phone. It was way too cheap for a trade-in, and I don’t think many charities or repair shops would bother with it either. And so, it sat on my shelf for several months gathering dust, because I didn’t know what to do with it. Surely, it wasn’t destined for a landfill?

Tags: technology,

August 31, 2020

8/31 – Sleeping Through the Dog Days

bulb

Well, admittedly, it’s been a slower month than expected here at Somnolescent. Turns out, after a month-long sprint (two, in my case…), mostly, you wanna relax. Relax we did, and so, by the time we got back in the productive spirit, it was the last week or two of the month. As such, the pickings are a little paltry this time (and admittedly no Pennyverse Month–we’re aiming for September). Still, can’t finish the month without a recap, so here we go…


August 17, 2020

Vaders and Venetian Blinds: A Review of “Racing the Beam”

mariteaux

Racing the Beam cover art

I’ve said before that I don’t read a whole lot of books. Not to say I don’t have a few on my radar, it just takes me a while. Same goes for video games; I have plenty to play, but I’m usually too busy off in my own world to try them out. Given that it looks like the US will open back up some time after the heat death of the universe (read: plenty of time to myself), I’ve been trying to rectify that.

Today’s topic is one that combines both these worlds in a really curious way: meet Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost’s Racing the Beam.

Tags: 70s, technology,

August 8, 2020

More old Macs!

mon

Old Macs. Also known as Old Macintoshes, Vintage Macintosh Computers, et cetera. Machines of which were made in simpler times, when Apple wasn’t as much of a shitshow of a company as they are today. Compact, distinctive from PCs of the time, maybe a tad yellowed – but that’s fine. Sometimes that’s what makes them beautiful.

Alright, here I am, at it again. I didn’t think I’d be able to make another one until after summer was over, but in surprising turn of events I got three new (old) machines up-and-running!

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