A little note for the record about yet another of life’s little misadventures, which played out over the past couple of months.
When I elected to buy a Mac Mini, as-noted previously this meant buying a standalone display for the first time since 2002. Since when technology has changed a lot, but the basic problem that worried me a dozen years ago hasn’t: as much as any typical gadget there is, a desktop display is something that it would be very helpful to examine in-person before buying, but this has never been a very practical option and certainly isn’t in the context of modern retailing.
So I made do with reviews and buying guides, studied hard, prepared a detailed spreadsheet, and finally settled on a ViewSonic model… which seemed to be out of stock everywhere. The “manufacturer” did take my order… then several hours later realized that they were also out of stock, and, owing one presumes to poor supply-chain/contractor management, wouldn’t be in-stock for weeks if not longer.
So I tried again, and purchased a highly-rated display with the IPS technology that is apparently the new hotness and an absolute must… and after weeks of fighting with settings, finally had to write it off as unworkable. Wacked colors, terrible terrible banding and hard edges in gradients, and absolutely zero help whatsoever from the alleged customer support options.
So, crowdsourced wisdom having dismally failed, I decided to try a different approach and seek out some expertise. And here I will name names, because I can give some credit. Small Dog Electronics of Vermont not only has cute branding, but genuinely helpful people (or at any rate one of them) who gave some thought to my needs and provided personal recommendations. I researched all of them anyway, and finally settled on another ViewSonic product; I wasn’t best pleased about giving them another chance after the way this whole fiasco began, but at this point a practical solution took precedence.
I rate Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch for Playstation a 9.6/10.
Beyond that, where to begin…
It has been just one week shy of a year since I declared my interest in this game, and intent to play it some day. About… five weeks since I received my secondhand PS3 and began playing. And about one week since I began the final stage of the game. Which was an absolutely shocking spike in difficulty compared with the other 95% of the game.
It’s strange that I’ve been around long enough that I can completely forget about some things, even since I’ve been working as a professional. Recently, an occasional client reminded me of a small project I worked on a good five years ago, that had completely slipped my mind: a logo design for a general-purpose virtual board game application called VASSAL.
This is still in use, which by itself seems surprising; as is typical in graphic design, much of my work is ephemeral, and volunteer projects like this can easily dry up and blow away. But the project is still going strong, apparently. And this design is still in use.
It has a bit of a clunky character seen by itself, in a large format, but I recall that our emphasis was making an effective icon in small formats. And I think that still works; if you visit the site, I think it makes for a splendid little icon in browser location bars and tabs. And, best of all, my client remains very pleased.
Twenty-thirteen has been, if nothing else, a very big surprise year when reviewed from December. Through 10, even 12 months of this year, it seemed like an average year at best, and frequently like one characterized by disappointment and frustration.
And yet, when I got to the end of the year, I not only received a few pieces of unexpected good news but also concluded that, looking back at the big picture of the year, it has actually been good and even great for me. Also, I find that I have done quite well in accomplishing my agenda from last January.
In the bigger big picture, well… you can read about that elsewhere. For me, though, I did, created or experienced the following memorable things…
- Learned my way around (one) ebook format, as part of publishing my own book.
- Another nanosecond of internet fame, as Richard Florida considered a question from me (and the fate of megacity-less states) at The Atlantic Cities.
- Documented the design of my well-received 2012 year-end card.
- Did I mention I published my first book?
Over this past weekend I finally moved my new Mac Mini into the role of main computer, replacing my c. 2006 iMac. (Which I’m willing to sell, no reasonable offer refused.)
Quite a lot of change bundled with this small package. Because my previous display was built-in, I had to buy a computer display for the first time in eleven years; the last time I bought a standalone display it was a CRT. For the first time ever, I own a computer with no optical drive. The Mini came preloaded with OS X 10.8 but I went ahead and installed the free 10.9 upgrade; this jumped me ahead three versions from 10.6… Various scattered thoughts, with some more detail to follow later, possibly… read more…
As Christmas is now past, and the original arrived safely, I can now share this recent project:
Though only one of, obviously, many great-great-grandparents was born in Switzerland, so far as I know, his line of descent has remained a prominent component of my family heritage and in some small way I have long thought of myself as having “Swiss forebears.”
Today I feel a more-than-usual measure of pride at that tenuous connection, after learning of a Swiss referendum on a universal basic income. This concept, also known as a guaranteed basic income, has been receiving more attention in the past year or so and a quick online search will provide you all kinds of details and extrapolations. But for the most part it would amount to exactly “what it says on the tin.”
For whatever it’s worth, I heartily endorse this proposal. Though it seems a longshot at this point, even moreso here in US of A, I want to endorse being even more radical. For some while now I’ve been thinking that, at least as a societal (and ultimately species) goal, we ought to flip the prevailing perspective of unemployment and job creation around. Our ultimate aim should be to “kill” as many jobs as possible, put everyone out of work and boost unemployment to 100%.
A few days ago I made it out to the Cleveland Museum of Art for Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome. As it doesn’t look like I’ll be entertaining visitors between now and the exhibit’s January 5 closing, and as I needed to do a bit more research for my next book, I took advantage of a relatively quiet day and some nice late Autumn weather to go have a look.
The exhibit is nice. I’m very pleased that more moderate counsels prevailed, after an attempt to “alter the terms of the deal” nearly derailed these artifacts’ trip to Cleveland. Between this, and Mike & Frank‘s recent expedition to the island, I think Sicily comes out looking like quite an appealing destination to the cultured middle American fwiw.
I don’t know that I will have opportunity to drop in any time soon, myself, but again I am very glad we could enjoy this small sample of the land’s cultural patrimony here at the CMA. It’s a modest exhibit in size, without much flab, but I think it was certainly worth the admission price. Just about every item is interesting, and without room after room to take into account, I was able to take my time studying each object, reading everything and listening to the audioguide material. Plus flipping through the splendid companion book that I wouldn’t mind picking up second-hand some day. (Sixty dollars seemed a bit much.)
Meanwhile, the Museum as a whole looks magnificent as its years-long expansion and renovation draw to a close. I confess that I will miss the old courtyard, which seems to have been sacrificed to the new plan; on a perfect summer day there was nothing better than sitting in that courtyard in the dappled light beneath the trees. The new glass-roofed atrium that replaces it is a breathtaking space, however. And there is such a great collection of material, even more of which can now be displayed than ever before; a few more rooms are still to open in January including a Himalayan gallery. Yes, our art museum is that amazing.
One final note: as the weather was good and I remain curious, I decided to bike down to the train station and take the Rapid Line out to University Circle. I don’t think the argument is quite as good as that for traveling downtown; I was cash-ahead without paying for UC parking but given the long hike from the station to the museum the trip became almost absurdly long. As it was a fine day, the walk and bike ride were not particularly objectionable, but I believe that if I go back in January or February, e.g., I’ll probably just drive. Ah well.