Letters from Somnolescent April 4, 2022

Winter 2022 – The Final Recap

by bulb

What’s this? What’s going on? Why the sudden change? Is Somnolescent falling apart? I bet it is–look, people’s sites are disappearing! Something big is happening. We said it wouldn’t last four months, and hey, three years isn’t too far off–

Grab some wood there, bub. The blog is not going anywhere, nor is the group. This is the final recap in its current form. There’s a very good reason for it, and I think the new arrangement will make my friends in the group, as well as myself (having to write all this…), happier as a result. It’s a good recap though! Lots good happening. Let’s revisit the last three months one last time.

The end of the recaps needed to happen

So what’s the thing with the recaps? Why are they being shuttered?

I’m tired of writing them. Either on less-than-busy months, I have nothing to write for them, or on months where we went ham, I have so much to write about that I have to devote an entire day to writing one. It’s not how I like to spend my time these days now that I’m working five days out of the week.

The original intent was the recaps were going to be a bit like Dolphin’s progress reports, where they go over a ton of new features and bugfixes every month, telling the stories of how longstanding bugs get fixed and new ones get made in fascinating detail. Problem is:

  1. Dolphin is a singular project with a singular goal, whereas we’re a collective with many things going on, so recaps are always very discombobulated
  2. Dolphin has people dedicated solely to writing their progress reports, while Somnolescent just has me, and I’m already up to stuff
  3. Letters is basically dead outside recaps, and it makes the fact I’m the only one writing for it that much more apparent

So truth be told, they just don’t work anymore, and it’s another thing I do for the whole group on my own. Love you guys, but I’m just not doing that anymore.

So what’s replacing them?

Thankfully, the group blog–belongs to the group! The idea instead is to post art, project updates, YouTube videos, new site sections, and whatever else that comes to mind, making Letters a running tally of what we’re up to as it happens. There’s no pressure to write a lot for each post like this, either; if all you’ve got is a drawing, that’s just as valid as a big essay. We’re going for a nice variety of multimedia instead.

As a result, the group blog will be much more active and spread out over four people posting about their happenings instead of the one person who does them now. I think this will make everyone happier, and it’ll make Letters a lot more fun to keep up with as well. (Weird, that–an art collective posting their art? Why didn’t we think of this before?)

Still! We have one last recap’s worth of material to do the old way, so we’re gonna make it a good one. (Funnily enough, not counting the year recaps, this will have been the 21st recap, so I guess they’re old enough to drink now! We’re also just three years past the first one, on March 15, 2019. They used to be a bit shorter…)

A brand spankin’ new somnolescent.net

Oh yes–new approach to the blog, new approach to the main site. The previous Somnolescent sites were all very much stuck on a grid. They looked nice! But they were very “website”, and they didn’t show off much of our personality, our characters, and the stuff we love on it. They were, essentially, launchpads to get to our individual sites. Not very communal, right?

somnolescent.net v4, from 2022

No more. We looked to the far past of the web, before site layouts were common and when imagemaps were king (to those that used them), and the new somnolescent.net is art heavy (though not necessarily heavy on your internet!). The chibis stay, but now we’ve got a splash page, cute illustrations to temper our technical side, bios that are less cryptic and more doofy, and a proper, straightforward about featuring our original species (heh), slerrets. (You can make your own slerrets too. Please send us them if you do!)

We all love this. This suits us way better than the cult thing. It’s exactly what we are in 2022. (I even doodled some placeholder graphics for Caby to work off of!)

Somnolescent Radio! For real!

Branching off of the main Somnolescent site comes a new subdomain: Somnolescent Radio! Streaming from the same Raspberry Pi as our Gopherhole, you have your choice of synthpop, hearty rock, weird rock, or sleepy folk/tronica stuff, hand-selected from our music collections.

The new Somnolescent Radio subsite

You can listen in using your browser or a media player app like Winamp, foobar2000, or Windows Media Player. Yes, it even works on your retro PCs. Visit the site for instructions!

Under the Rain Shadow, phase one!

It’s still awaiting a rewrite, but the first draft of my Pennyverse novella Under the Rain Shadow concluded in February! Bless everyone for being so patient in waiting for me to finish it. I think we’re all quite pleased with the ending, though. You can read the full thing over on toyhou.se while I ponder the cammy.somnol redesign.

Under the Rain Shadow's front cover
Featuring my name on the front, even! (Click here for the full-sized image!)

“I’m going back up north tomorrow anyway.” Gonzo got to his feet, staggering towards the van he missed so very, very much, the one with his bed and blankets and everything he knew and was sure of in life in it.

“Hey, what are you gonna do with the tape?” Calhoun called from behind.

“I dunno. What do you want me to do with it, man?”

The coyote pondered it briefly with another swig of beer. “Run it over with your van. Or actually, wipe it. I have a degausser inside.”

Brand new Devon and dcb sites!

Man, remember when site redesigns were happening all the time? Well, we’ve got three for ya: Devon’s redone both matfloor.net (you can find all the old versions up on archives–more on that in a moment) and put something up in the devon.somnol space at long last! Take your pick of how formal you want it.

devon.somnol comes alive

And after two years with the same layout, dcb has come around with a return to the stylings of the old water.css dotcomboom.somnol from years prior. (Also worth noting: w2krepo comes back in frames! Remember frames? Your Windows 2000 box will love them.)

dcb.somnol v5

An archive spectacular! (Both archives and the Internet Archive! But not Oddity Archive…)

Surprisingly, the place that’s seen the most heat over the past few months has been archives! I mostly used archives as a file dump last year, but this year, I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning it out and giving it a purpose that I am still highly in love with: time travel!

The end of the Scratchpad

Ah, I have to give this one its own little section. Did you know my very own Scratchpad has finally ended? I go over my reasons as to why in the final post from February 27th of this year. A month on, I definitely feel I made the right choice, but all the posts have been rendered out to static HTML and saved to archives if you ever feel particularly nostalgic for my random rambles. (I know I do sometimes.)

The great Somnolescent time machine

I’m a sentimental fool, I really am, so one of my big occupations so far this year has been to dip back into my backups (or in some cases, Wayback Machine grabs) and rescue the old site designs of each of the Somnolians for perusal on archives. (And helpfully, my fellow Somnolians have been tossing me stuff to restore and get up on archives, which is much appreciated indeed. Keep it coming lads!)

somnolescent.net v2, from 2019
Remember this one? Go browse.

This blossomed into turning archives from merely a backup of old web pages to a full on Somnolescent site network time machine, roughly corresponding to late 2018, 2019, and 2020/2021. I went through each backup, fixing links, restoring content, and optimizing PNGs so these sites actually in some cases load faster than their original versions. No arthritic Wayback Machine page loads here, it’s like they never left us!

I might still yet write a post as to why and how I do all this, because man it makes me fuzzy. Same sorts of feelings you might get digging out an old iPod you spent years with or looking through family photos from time immemorial, I get looking at the sites we spent all the time in the world working on, as speedy as the day we first built them, safe from Wayback Machine script and junk in all the gears…

Relocating (some things) to the Internet Archive

Part of the refocus of archives has been to move some of those old files to the Internet Archive instead. IA has been incredibly good to me and to us in the group for its collections of magazine scans, game ROMs, tape transfers, and outright pirated software, so this is my way of giving back. At the moment, it’s mostly my rhythm game soundtrack rips up there, but I’ve probably got some other rarities that can join them, somewhere or other.

And I’m not the only one contributing to their hoard! dcb powered through saving nearly twenty years of the Neopets Art Gallery last year and got his personal account frozen in the process, but it wasn’t easy to browse on our servers and, functionally, it was a mess. You can now find that over on the Internet Archive too, zipped by year for your sanity and ours. (Devon hasn’t done anything huge with her account on there, but she was uploading some magazine stuff too, if you fancy Sleazenation or you want to peruse her design favorites.)

Art highlights

Of course, these will become their own posts after this one…but still gotta shout some good art out, yeah? (And my own.) Click for full-sized if necessary!

"Apache" by dcb
“Apache” by dcb (January 9)
"Quiet, You" by Cammy
“Quiet, You” by Cammy (March 21)
"Memories" by Caby
“Memories” by Caby (March 28)
"Friends!" by Devon
“Friends!” by Devon (March 31)

Group’s a lil smaller, isn’t it? It isn’t?

I’m putting this at the end of the recap because I think it should probably be addressed on its own, and given that it deals with finality, it might as well play us out of the whole recap thing as well.

There’s been a bit of an exodus out of Somnolescent this year. mon left after, honestly, a year of being completely absent, so no real loss there. borb got kicked out, and after like two days of missing her, we realized she sleeps half the day anyway and mostly talked about herself instead of drawing, so again, no great loss. Some smaller bit parts who I don’t expect anyone else to recognize–but it is true. The downsizing of 2022 extended even to people we thought were friends, but really haven’t been friends with in ages anyway.

We didn’t lose anyone important. The people who were genuinely excited to be there. The people who grew and evolved and found all new things to love thanks to Somnolescent. The people who, still through everything, I hop on Furcadia and chat about RetroAchievements with in private little dreams far away from the Nexus. Those folks are still with us, and I hope to repay them with group calls and chatter into the night and gift art for a long time to come.

Never be afraid to consider why you do things, and why you hang out with the people you do. Questioning that doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate them, but that you’re making sure your appreciation is well-placed and well-meaning. In life, in creativity, and in friendship, nothing that doesn’t suit you is owed a free pass because of sentimentality, certainly not toxic, draining friendships or regular tytoposting.

Their posts will remain on this blog, and their sites will remain on archives, but they’re gone from our lives and they’re gone from our sites. The bulb is healthier for it. Good luck to them.

And with that! Starts a new era in Letters From Somnolescent, a much freer era with much less paperwork. We got away from what we should’ve been for a few years, but that happens. Hopefully you’ll stay with us as we go look at cool trees together?

The new somnol.net headshots on neat colors
Lookit us and our cool colors

About bulb

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

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